Seattle Musings and A List

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We returned on Sunday from a glorious Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle, Washington. There we were hosted by Mike and Kimmie and got to spend some comfy, quality time with them and other friends we rarely see. This was Asher’s first trip to Seattle, and he fell for it hard, not least because he loves blustery, rainy days and it Seattle obliged us with rain.

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Our journey up, by plane, was kind of hellish, as fog had socked in SeaTac and the pilot flew us round and round above Portland for a while. Then he landed us in Portland, which was good because we were able to buy sandwiches, but then we were out of queue and didn’t actually make it to land in Seattle until 4 p.m. Originally we were supposed to arrive at 8 in the morning. Long long very boring day with not enough food for my hungry boys. The worst part is that it robbed us of a precious day in Seattle.

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HOWEVER, once we were there, our vacation was on! We saw Tony on Tuesday night. And on Wednesday we got to explore Pike Place Market with Kimmie, visiting food stalls for Thanksgiving supplies and kitschy gift shops and comics stores for fun. I ate a duck burrito for the first time.

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Thanksgiving Day was lovely. We cooked and hung out. We made multiple grocery store trips–so much that Mike called it Five Store Turkey. All the side dishes were vegan, and Kimmie made a stuffed seitan dish and a glorious mushroom gravy. Ian roasted root vegetables. Trevor and Sara and their son S came for dinner and Trevor made several delicious desserts. I burned my brussels sprouts because I was so busy relaxing and visiting. My cranberry sauce turned out well, however. A few other friends dropped by near the end of the day.

The kids loved getting to play Mario Kart and we watched Ant Man and Wasp. S took to Asher immediately. It was fun seeing Asher interacting with him and being the bigger kid.

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On Friday, we met up with Trevor, Sara, and S again and made a walking tour of University of Washington. Trevor attended grad school  and also taught there. So he shared some of his experiences and showed us around the campus. Unfortunately, the library and all the buildings were closed for the holiday.

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We also got to go to the MoPop and enjoyed the Marvel exhibit. Asher loved the fantasy collection (Gimli’s axe! Saruman’s staff!) and the horror collection. What is it with the fascination with horror films even though he’s never seen one. (Or has he?)

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Because airfare during Thanksgiving weekend is atrocious, we elected to drive home. Even with car rental, gas, and one night in a hotel, we probably saved $1,000. And after our flight up, the kids weren’t too keen on getting on an airplane again. They weren’t especially keen on driving 13 or so hours home, either, but it is what it is. Honestly, traveling with these guys is really easy now. They were wonderful, even under the worst of circumstances, and I can’t wait to take them back to Seattle.

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We stopped briefly in Portland and visited Brianna and Jasper. Haven’t seen her since summer of 2015.

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I’m so grateful for this trip, for the opportunity to do extraordinary things with my family. Ordinary time is sacred too, of course, but exploring the world together is a privilege.

* I love my friends. They are brilliant, generous, compassionate, kind, forgiving, talented, hard-working, committed, and wise.
* You might not guess it from its name but Monster Manor is the most hospitable and comfortable place in the U.S.
* Seattle has charmed the socks off both my boys. (I couldn’t be happier about this.)
* Lucas really liked U of W!!!! I don’t blame him one bit!
* 5- and 6-year-old boys are TONS of work. I have had no less than three ample opportunities to rediscover this fact. My kids are so EASY now, comparatively.
* Sometimes you can befriend a 16-year-old girl and then see her periodically and again when she’s 36 (approximately) and be wowed all over again, for a thousand more reasons.
* Pike Place Market is the bomb. I wanted lots of stuff for myself; I bought two refrigerator magnets.
* It’s pretty rad to book and pay for a hotel while traveling down the road. And it gives you a good goal.
* Washington and Oregon have WAY more water than we do. California has WAY more people.
* With climate change, I think I should buy a few thousand acres up north–get a jump on future agribusiness.
* We returned to Sacramento at that vivid autumnal peak, when the trees are practically vibrating with their most intense colors, and you wonder if your eyes are seeing some infrared wavelengths you can’t see at any other time of the year. It’s magic. Don’t blink.
* Alice Hoffman is still my fav author. Here on Earth was deliciously dark. I love an unhappy ending.
* I had a tightly, tidily scheduled workweek planned; then today it unraveled, opening ugly unbillable gaps. I always want to ask PMs, “When exactly did you realize your document would be late? And why did you not inform me then?”
* I can hustle like a badass with 13 years of self-employment under her belt: I now have plenty of replacement work.
* Phone, “unbillable” is a word. I want “unkillable” work even less than I want unbillable work.
* Asher believes that Avatar the Last Airbender should be a Thanksgiving tradition the world over. He is probably not wrong.
* It appears that my father will take us to, or pick us up from, the airport at any time: even 3:45 a.m., which is a bloody ungodly hour. Good to know!
* Alaska gave us each a $75 discount on our next flights because of our colossally bad 10-hour day flying to Seattle. Where should we go?
* Kimberly’s mushroom gravy and Mike’s turkey and vegan stuffing are divine.
* It’s possible that my burned Brussels sprouts were partially redeemed by my warmly spiced cranberry sauce. It’s great on bagels, too.
* Ian may be allergic to cats.
* Lucas has been to Seattle twice and has yet to see Mt. Rainier. It was hiding both trips.
* Our dogs are tiny fluffy stupid misbehaving dummies who are naughty and that bodes ill for future trips. I missed them.
* My uncle is making (slow) progress after his third (“The Works”) cardiac surgery. I am thrilled.
* I estimate that Asher and I are on page 4,490 of Percy Jackson Takes Over My Life With Ten Books.

Musings

It’s Friday morning and time to go to work. I have a sick boy at home today. And I’m pretty tired from my workweek plus two school meetings (it should have been three but I could not rally for the middle school sports meeting). I want to go back to bed.

There’s a crispness in the air, and my dogs are going berserk whenever they see or hear the squirrels, of which there are many. It’s peaceful for a moment and then they bark a ruckus, to which crows screech a reply.

I am grateful that I can work at home today. My mind drifts to the weekend; plans are hazy. I long to spend a whole day reading for pleasure. I have iris rhizomes to plant.

I am struggling to stay positive given the daily news. Our government has 12,000 migrant children in detention centers and camps. It used to be that unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. would be released into the custody of family members living here. Now immigrants are afraid to come forward to claim the children for fear of deportation. The problem is so much bigger than I thought. It’s not just the 416 kids who remain separated from their families, which is the story of the summer that rattles around in my mind and heart every day. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I’m incensed by this cruelty.

I sent some money to women democrats running for the House and Senate, and one running for governor of Georgia. This makes me feel a little better.

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2017—A Summary

2017—What can I say? In a lot of ways 2017 kicked my ass. I’ve despaired more times than I can count. I’ve also rolled up my sleeves and done more political activism than ever before. I’ve challenged myself in innumerable ways, through work, personal relationships, and parenting. I’ve also thrown up my hands lots of times, had too much booze, gained weight, watched a ton of TV, curled up and licked my wounds. Staying informed and engaged this year has been a matter of taking a daily barrage of gut-punches.

I am frequently exhausted by the mental and physical requirements of my job; it leaves me feeling depleted and out of gas at the end of many days. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that I edit for a living, I embarked on a fun personal challenge to read broader and more challenging categories/genres of books for pleasure. Filling up my mind is always one of my highest priorities, and I’ve stretched into reading fiction and nonfiction about contemporary issues and people who are living lives that are a vastly different from my own. Rock!

I’ve also allowed myself a lot of time to change slowly. I see this as a kind of self-care in a year that by any measure surely required it. Win some, lose some. I barely painted at all, and I miss it every day. I still dream about painting at night. I struggle with finding the perfect cocktail of opportunity, free time, emotional wherewithal to face the complex feelings of ambition/desire/failure/striving/laziness/etc that well up when I approach a canvas. I barely exercise. I barely blog. These are things that have always given me joy or emotional and health benefits, and they have fallen by the wayside. Because I can only exist in this moment, not in all moments at once.

I’ve parented through a few doozies, and advocated for my boys a number of times in assorted settings such as school and health care. I’ve watched my children both maturing beautifully and in sometimes shocking and sudden spurts throughout the year. Learning to let go is a daily lesson, and I believe a quintessential quality of being a parent. As much as I want out of life for myself—and believe me that’s a long and glorious list—I want even more and better for them. But I am not them and they are not me, and ultimately we all walk our own paths. Nevertheless, I often feel like I am not one but three people, because there’s nary a moment when their needs are not at the top of my mind and factored into just about every decision I make. I’ve had to pull back from school activities and volunteering. I have feelings about this, but I’m learning to say no. Saying no can save you. And letting go, in measured increments, with love is the name of this parenting game, from that first Beltane dawn in 2002.

I am blessed to have found meaningful employment in a place I can grow and develop my career. I already said it’s taxing. It’s also truly wonderful to have friends and colleagues again—talented people with passion for what they do and amazingly clever minds solving enormous problems and working from value positions I can respect. My company has a slogan: We make big things possible—in areas that matter for humans and our environment. That I have a part to play, a contribution to make, in projects that will affect our state for the next 50-100 years is somewhat staggering and a source of considerable pride. What’s more, I learn about a dozen new things every day in subjects that were largely previously unknown to me: hydrology, cultural anthropology, historical architecture, air quality, noise and vibration, native California species I’ve never seen before, environmental justice, hazardous materials … the list goes on and on and on. What’s more, I can tell you with great confidence: big infrastructure projects and development are not done cavalierly in California! We live in the best state.

I maintained my freelance business this year, too, working joyfully with Sacramento Magazine monthly and taking on special freelance projects for fun. There’s one project that came to me this year that is very close to my heart because I get to work with two brilliant friends. I’m honored and delighted by this.

This year I’ve proven to myself that I can handle more than I thought. I’ve done a gazillion new things, sometimes clumsily, sometimes with grace. I’m on a board of directors. I’ve worked hard to maintain all my relationships. I try to make contact with three or four people every day. That’s called kin-keeping and I’m a badass at it. My friendships nourish me and fulfill me and I know it’s goofy when I say it on Facebook but I truly love you. I witness your heartaches, your striving. I sit with you when you’re depressed, and I celebrate your accomplishments every day. I am here for you. It’s who I am. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for loving.

My love, Ian, is my rock and my best friend. We are sometimes gasping for air in the grind of all this work-family stuff, but we’re connected and in it together. He’s my heartbeat, my song. In 2017, we’ve managed to put a new roof on our home and fix it up really nice. It’s water-tight, just right, and the place I love best of all. In. The. Whole. World. And 2018 is going to be grand in a whole bunch of important ways.

My family is good. My parents are well. My brother is doing great. My uncle survived not one but two open heart surgeries in 2017. One cousin had a beautiful baby girl. Another cousin got married to a wonderful woman. My aunt and uncle returned to Sacramento after five years in Geneva. My folks are in my life almost daily, and I feel their love and support as a constant, no matter what.

My Asher is sick. My Lucas has two good friends over tonight, for NYE (ethernet!) gaming. And though Ian and I had the opportunity to spend tonight with shiny friends and loves, cooler (sicker) heads prevailed.

In just about 36 hours we’ll be on a plane all together—Mom, Dad, Jonathan, Ian, the boys and me—heading for Maui where we will celebrate the new year and soak up some rays! Hello, 2018!

Probably all of this should be on my blog instead of here. But it’s down again for an unknown reason. I’ll deal with that later. One thing at a time.

Anyway, I love you. May this coming year be gentler, more peaceful and just, and more connected. May we find our courage and stand together. May we hold close our values and loved ones, extend a hand to a stranger, shine out our brilliance, and let our resilience be our strength. Happy New Year!

Love Is …

Love is …

  • Friends who host a teen traveling solo for the first time and show him around one of the greatest cities in the world
  • Going to the funeral of my dad’s best friend, even though I never met the man, to support my dad
  • Parents who gamely resume and add to their volunteer kid taxiing to and from school
  • Friends who admit they are struggling and ask for assistance; if we don’t know, we can’t help
  • Boundary setting that comes from experience and maturity; “no I do not want to work over the weekend”
  • Long snuggles spent comforting a distraught little boy who is trying to work through a lot of big feelings
  • Ending a year-long commitment that is no longer right for our family; saying no (or no, thank you) is sometimes the most right thing
  • Speaking out for justice on behalf of others more vulnerable than yourself
  • Getting involved in politics, even when it’s well out of your comfort zone to do so
  • Reading a novel aloud to my son, who was a reluctant listener at first but then turned into a please-just-a-few-more-pages listener by the end of the book
  • Beautiful, delicious meals prepared nightly by my dedicated husband, who works all day and then cooks for us
  • Rededication to schoolwork and routine, and facing into new challenges
  • Company matching for employee disaster relief donations (Harvey, in this case)
  • Buying tickets to Hawaii for a family vacation in January, and grandparents who help fund it
  • Sheltering in place at home, cool and comfortable, while California roasts
  • Fluffy dogs who love and worship you no matter how many mistakes you made today
  • Working with dedication and through exhaustion for months and month because that’s what’s required for your clients, your partners, and your family (I love you, Ian)
  • Our magnificent Village that offers to help in some way nearly every day
  • Going through beloved belongings and realizing it’s time to let some go so that other children can play with them
  • Exploring Old Sacramento with our boys during Gold Rush Days, which was surprisingly charming because cars were banished from the old timey streets
  • Delicious end-of-summer lounging by the pool

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Daddy Flew!

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For Father’s Day this year I was flippin’ brilliant! The boys and I bought Ian an iFly experience at the indoor skydiving place in Roseville.

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We kept it a secret and on Father’s Day took Ian out to a lovely Indian buffet. Then we headed to iFly. There was a pretty long wait time, despite our appointment, but it didn’t matter because we were all pretty excited for him. And we got to see lots of other people try it.

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Best helmet!

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Like I said, I was feeling pretty damn smug about this gift!

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Ian got two 4-minute flights in the air chamber. That sounds very short, but it seems to be quite a workout.

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I think it was a big success!

And after all that, we visited my daddy, whom I love with all my heart.

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Why I Marched

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On Saturday, January 21, I attended the Women’s March in Oakland, California. It was an amazing day, and so inspiring to see so many women, men, and children out walking the streets together in solidarity with women marching all around the world. It was lovely to hear the chanting and singing, to read the clever and funny and poignant signs.

I saw a notification on Facebook that Senator Dianne Feinstein was asking for comments from people explaining why they marched. I sent my comments in, possibly too late to be useful for her, but nevertheless, it felt good to articulate what all this means to me. Here it is, with a little elaboration:

 

It may be too late for this to be useful, but here is why I marched in the Women’s March in Oakland with a friend and my husband, while friends all over the nation marched in other cities:

Because I want women to be appreciated and paid equally for the tremendous work they do in every industry.

Because I want women who are doing the honorable and essential work raising children not to be systematically and financially penalized for doing so.

Because I want women, men, and children of all ethnicities, creeds, sexualities, gender identities, economic backgrounds, and disability and immigration status to have a fair chance at success, and furthermore I want all those who have challenges to receive assistance to live their lives to their full potential. This is what government is for.

Because I want all of us to vote, not just those who feel their side will win, and I want voting protections for all Americans.

Because I want our government to be accountable to the people, and not to have leaders who take every advantage to get richer themselves or stay in power at the expense of the rest of us.

Because Black Lives Matter, and this institutionalized racism must stop. There are no acceptable excuses.

Because I want our environment and national parks and natural resources to be rigorously protected for all Americans. I want America to value and support science and scientists, for they are pushing our society forward.

Because I want us as a nation to address climate change with enthusiasm and gustobecause our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. I want America to cooperate with scientists and innovators and reformers all over the world to tackle this global problem.

Because I want women and girls everywhere to have equal rights, access to health care, education, opportunity, and reproductive freedom. I want women to be able to move through their lives in safety and without fear of suffering discrimination, injustice, rape, or any other personal or systematic violence.

Because I want to address our national problems of health care access, education gaps, income inequality, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, lack of clean air/water/food, so we glorious humans can get on with the better work of creating art and expanding opportunity, bettering society, and making contributions to science, knowledge, medicine, culture.

Because my sisters and I are dying of a thousand cuts.

I marched because I’m raising two feminist sons, and I want them to see the world for what it is, and to imagine how much better it will be when we all have equality.

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And if you’ve been here before and are now thinking this is not my typical post. Well, I gotta say. It’s going to be more typical in the future. I am absolutely infuriated at our new president and everything he represents. He and his cronies are the antithesis of my core values. I will not be silent. I will put my money to work for my ideals as best I can. I will march and march and march. And I will vote.

Robet Kennedy Ripples of Hope

#womensrightsarehumanrights, #thankyouhillary, #pussypower, #nastywoman, #feminism, #resist

Falconry Redux

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On October 1 of this year, we were able to fulfill a vow that I secretly made three years ago. Here’s the backstory.

In 2013, Ian, Lady K, Tate, and Lucas and I went to West Coast Falconry to learning about the sport of falconry and experience first-hand the beautiful raptors used in the sport. It was a spectacular day and I wrote about it here at Love in the Suburbs.

At that time, Asher was 6too young to come with us, according to the policy of the establishment. We left him with my parents and had our adventure. And when we were done, I quietly vowed that we would be back, so that Asher could have the same AMAZING experience.

Well, last month, we four went all together back to the countryside near Marysville, bright and early. We left home at 6 and got there by our 8 a.m. class.

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And we got to see and touch and admire these gorgeous Harris hawks.

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We worked with a female Harris hawk named Avalon. And I got to see my little boy call her to him, hold her on his glove, and marvel at how gorgeous, how light and fierce, and how efficient a flyer she is.

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In my post from three years ago, I wrote a bit about these birds, their hunting techniques, and a little about the history of falconry, if you’re curious to learn more.

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And it was a huge delight to see Lucas with a hawk again.

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Sorry you had to wait, dear Asher.

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We all came away feeling like we need to do a Hawk Walk or other falconry excursion. West Coast Falconry offers a number of wonderful opportunities to see these birds in actionactually hunting and bringing down preywith their devoted human companions. Asher was particularly fired up. That this is a sport one can get into is kind of miraculous. We all daydreamed a bit about becoming falconers. How cool is that?!

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Our experience was over all too soon. We then went a-rambling through the hills, eventually ending up in Nevada City for lunch and shopping.

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It was a gorgeous Saturday and I’m so grateful we were able to fulfill this wish.

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I love family adventures, and I LOVE my family.

Grief and Disappointment

Sleepless, sad, sick---he's sick, I am heartsick. He keeps asking me if he can get me anything, or if he can do anything to cheer me up. I told him I just want him to keeping caring, to keep being the gentle and kind, loving and inclusive boy he is.

This was me and Asher, on Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016. Sleepless, sad, sickhe’s sick, I am heartsick.

I am utterly heartbroken, exhausted, invalidated by Donald Trump’s election. I am angry. I won’t pretend otherwise. I wanted Hillary to win. I wanted to see a woman president before I’m old. Now I doubt I ever will.

Asher keeps asking me if he can get me anything, or if he can do anything to cheer me up. I told him I just want him to keeping caring, to keep being the gentle and kind, loving and inclusive boy he is.

Trump didn’t win this election. I think Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich won it for him about 25 years ago. I think the 25-year smear campaign against Hillary did its job. I think too many Americans were swayed by his anti-intellectual rhetoric. And maybe too many are afraid of a woman in power. I’m not ready to play nice and “reach across the aisle” for the sake of a smooth transition. I’ve seen no evidence that Republicans are willingeverto do the same.

So none of what I’m saying is earth-shatteringly insightful or even all that helpful to anyone anywhere. Plenty of intelligent writers are talking about why he won and why she lost, or who voted and who didn’t, and how much racism and misogyny played a roll. I’m not here to do that. I’m no political analyst. I’m not a political blogger.

I’m just saying out loud, on my own mic: I think Trump is going to dismantle the inclusive, diverse America that I hold dear. I think Hillary Clinton would have pushed us forward toward a more progressive America, where more and more people could benefit from our social contracts: equal rights, health care, preschool, education, college, safe environmental policy, maybe even equal pay. I’m just standing up and saying I’m terribly, terribly disappointed. And I can’t believe we’ll have to listen to that blowhard speak from the oval office.

And I will miss the Obamas.

And I will fight.

 

Leap Day Adventure!

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This 2016 year is a Leap Year! And last month in February (goodness, more than a month almost two three months ago already!) we started a new family tradition of Leap Day = Adventure Day. We surprised our boys by NOT taking them to school and going on a day trip to San Francisco instead.

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Lucas was a little put out when we first told him we were skipping school. “But I have physics today.” He got into the spirit of our adventure, though. Many thanks to Miranda for making this happen for us!

Skulls

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Personally, I’m extremely fond of the Steinhart Aquarium. I love the gorgeous fishes and especially the jellies. I know—everyone loves the jellies.

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Living roof

And the living rooftop is just plain rad.

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May 24, 2016
OK. Truth is, I give up. I’ve been trying to write this post FOREVER. I think I’m just going to let it stand as it is. My pictures can tell you how wonderful this day way, and once I hit “publish” this day will not longer be blocking up my ability to write about other things. So, my loves. Here you have it. Life is beautiful and full of both exquisite, exceptional moments — like Leap Day — and lots of ordinary time in between. And isn’t that grand?

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Blessed Rain for Earth Day

Gift of raindrops on roses Happy Earth Day indeed! #spring #waldorfhome #earthday #earth #rain #roses #California #drought

Happy Earth Day! It’s raining! This is simply the most perfect blessing for California, and I’m so delighted. My heart is high and full of love and compassion, soaring and aching in turns along with loved ones’ hearts, and grateful to have so much abundant beauty and bounteous love and friendship in my life.

I am the beauty of the green earth
And the white moon among the stars
And the mystery of the waters
And the desire of human hearts.

Call unto your soul: Arise and come unto me
For I am the soul of nature who gives
Life to the universe.
From me all things proceed
And unto me all things must return.
—Doreen Valiente

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This is the spirit of Earth Day for me: wonder and celebration, joy and protection, and profound gratitude.

#nofilter #roses

This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere:
the dew is never all dried at once:
a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.
—John Muir

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I do not have to go
To Sacred Places
In far-off lands.
The ground I stand on
Is holy.

Here, in this little garden
I tend
My pilgrimage ends.
The wild honeybees
The hummingbird moths
The flickering fireflies at dusk
Are a microcosm
Of the Universe.
Each seed that grows
Each spade of soil
Is full of miracles.

And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here.
—Mary de La Valette


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I just couldn’t hold it in. My love and gratitude flies out to all beings—may all of us be blessed with a perfect moment of appreciation for this precious little marble floating in space,  where we live, toil and sweat, and care for each other.

Blessed Be.

P.S. I’m going out now to poke little seeds into soil.

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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.

    © 2003–2018 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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