Family Days

So, Friday again. There’s always such gorgeous POTENTIAL in Fridays, such HOPE, so many dreams and plans. How will we fill our weekend? What weekend joys will fill and fulfill us over the next few days? Around here, we call weekends “Family Days.” I know we have family days every day, for we are never really far from one another. But “Family Days” is the name that means something to my children, and it helps us grown-ups remember that these two days are important, no matter what we end up doing (even if it’s just chores and hanging out). Family Days are special. Daddy is home with us all day. There’s less routine (like little boys waking up even earlier than usual out of excitement) and more resting. A bit more reading. More breathing out.

It’s funny, the expectations I carry. I want my Family Days to be idyllic and restful, peaceful and restorative after a hard/busy week of bouncing to and fro between kid activities and work. I also want Family Days to be packed with exciting projects and fun, tons of friends and laughter, special foods and adventures away from home—all to fill up our hearts, minds, and eyes.

Oh Friday, where will you take us?

Lots of weekends look a lot like work days for me. Today I’m imagining that apart from all that dreamy fun, adventure, social time, and rest we’ll have this weekend, I’ll also get gobs and gobs of freelance work done. Yes, this is where that time machine comes in. I’m awaiting its delivery. Should be any day now. I have my receipt around here somewhere …

On deck for this weekend:
• Getting our hens!
• Finishing coop/chicken run chores (yikes!)
• Getting some straw and feed and chicken sundries
• Tons of editing work for me
• Dinner with friends
• Some swimming, hopefully—it’s damn hot
• Grocery shopping
• Making snacks and popsicles

This morning, my kiddos were READY for Family Days. Asher whined, “It’s NOT a school day. It’s a Family Day! We play together today.” I know how he feels. Although he rallied and adjusted his attitude to going to preschool, he gave me a set of assignments for today: “Spray your plants. Work on your computer. Build with blocks on our zoo. Then when I come home, I’ll say ‘Good job, Mom! You did good work today!’”

Seattle

Oh Seattle!

Ian and I took a three-day trip to Seattle, Washington to celebrate our 15th anniversary. We had an amazing time together, which was a wonderful balance of spending time alone and spending time with darling friends whom we don’t often see. We were treated to drinks and Seattle-brewed beer, attended a “babycue” (baby shower/BBQ for expecting friends), and got a marvelous driving tour around Seattle, featuring a walk through the arboretum, visits to Gasworks Park and the working locks, and a photo shoot with the Fremont Troll. Saturday featured glorious weather and it was perfect for such site-seeing. We waked our legs off all throughout the downtown area to Pioneer Square, along the waterfront to the Olympic Sculpture Park and past the Space Needle and the EMP/Science Fiction Museum. We visited the renowned Pesos for breakfast with friends and had a romantic, delicious dinner for two at the Palace Kitchen, where we didn’t even get off the appetizer menu. We received two passes to the Seattle Art Museum and spent two lovely hours with friends there; Ian really enjoyed the Andy Warhol film and photo exhibit and the Kurt Cobain exhibit. I took pictures of nearly everything, but not enough of the beautiful people we spent time with. Our room at the Hotel Max was terrific and very comfortable, especially after they moved us up to the tenth floor to a room with a downtown view,  and I’d recommend it if you’re hankering for some modern decor and really comfy pillows. It rained on us just enough to be authentically Seattle, but not enough to hinder our adventures in any way.

Old Married Folks

M and J took us to a gorgeous overlook in a ritzy neighborhood on a hill above Seattle—sorry, I forgot the name.

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Park mosaic table top near the Seattle Space Needle.

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Sculpture detail. This is fairly near the Needle.

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I was really impressed with the beautiful hanging baskets of flowers and garden planters all over the downtown area. Everything was clean and beautifully maintained. Even the manhole covers were artistic.

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This is the nighttime view from our hotel. Pretty!

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Irises at the Olympic Sculpture Park—there were so many and they were so beautiful; I liked them more than the sculptures.

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Part of the amazing Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum building. I think it’s a little schizo. We didn’t go inside this trip, but I know we will someday. I loved, loved, loved the reflective skin and shapes of this building.

Ian on the Waterfront Near Sculpture Park

Here’s Ian being handsome on the waterfront near the Sculpture Park.

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We love exploring places, love walking and walking and walking together. It’s been a really long time since we had the luxury of doing this, just the two of us. Everything I saw was beautiful because I was with my love.

Many, many thanks to our generous friends for showing us a fabulous time!

Happy 15th!

Happy 15th Anniversary to the man who has filled my life with love, laughter, sensation, little boys, and most recently, rainbows.

My Birthday Present

Birthday

Today is my birthday. I’m 38 today, although last year my husband advertised my birthday as my 25th, so maybe this is my 26th? I can live with either, really.

During my 26th year, I was married to the man of my dreams, building life-long friendships, living a mostly carefree, earnest life, and working hard to make it in the world. It was a good year full of good times and good goals. We were building careers. We were saving all the money we could to buy a home together. We were talking about having children.

Yesterday as I was walking home after having dropped Asher off at his preschool, I had a few minutes to reflect on my life. It’s easier to think about such things when the ambient sounds are birdsong instead of little-boy laser-battle sound effects.

Wow. I am really fortunate and REALLY happy!

I don’t always feel happy. Small and big things get me down. I worry. I have anxiety and frustrations and limits that I strain against very often. Sometimes this coat of motherhood that I put on eight years ago feels itchy and too tight in places. Sometimes I get hot under the collar. These feelings I experience are all true, valid, and real.

But what a life we have made for ourselves! For instance, I have time to walk my 3-year-old to school in the morning. I can pick my 8-year-old up from school in the afternoon. I have the freedom to accept the work I want, and most of the time I can turn down the work I don’t want. I haven’t sat in a cubicle for six years. When my young son isn’t with me, he is with his father, a grandmother, or our dear friends of twenty years. Lucas goes to an amazing school, where he is learning every day. I have hobbies now that I never dreamed I’d have, and a garden full of green, growing friends. I’m learning to make things with my hands. I’m developing new interests and skills all the time. Our children are healthy, smart, and vital. We enjoy our family time together. I have talented, loving, patient friends. I’m profoundly in love with my husband and he with me.

It’s a rich and vibrant life and I’m so grateful. I think 38 is just fine.

Rainbows in Hand

Mother’s Day

My Mother’s Day weekend was delightful! It was full of flowers, yummy food, a pedicure, and art. My family lavished attention on me and we were able to do things I really enjoy.

Lucas at the Nursery

Like take a trip to Capital Nursery to buy roses for me and Mother’s Day presents for my mom and Ian’s mom.

"Starry Nights" Clematis

Of course, I had to drool over the selection of clematis vines. Must have one soon, but how do I choose?

"Daybreak"

Here is one of the roses we came home with; it’s called “Daybreak.” I’ve really been wanting an apricot rose! I got three other new roses: a pink one called “Passionate Kisses,” a second “Hot Cocoa,” and a violet rose called “Wile Blue Yonder.”  We bought my mother a yellow rose called “Monkey Business” and bought Ian’s mom a lovely hanging fuschia with pink and red flowers for her shady patio. Fuschia flowers always make me think of little ballerinas.

Ian Planting My Mother's Day Roses

Then my sweet hubby planted my roses for me, after I picked out where they should go. Poor Ian! He used to think he’d never have a yard so he’d never have to do yard work. Then he met me.

Asher Climbing the Slide

Asher practiced some new skills, like climbing up the slide. He mentioned something about one of the other boys at preschool doing it…. Lucas played with his new tennis racket and fetched mishit balls from the neighbor’s yard. We weeded and planted vinca and red and pink iceplant in the troublesome spot in our front yard flowerbed in the hopes that it will hug into the little hillside and make it prettier.

We also did a fun art project that I’ll write about later.

Raindrops fell just as we were finishing up the gardening so we all went for a dip in the hot tub in the rain. It might have been peaceful and romantic if not for all the water monkeys splashing around! Ian painted my toes for me while I read a magazine and drank a cocktail. Bliss! Then we went visiting, to deliver our Mother’s Day gifts to our moms.

So you see how well I am treated, how well I am mothered?

To all the people in my life who have mothered me, inspired me, challenged me, picked me up after I failed, taught me to take good care of myself and others, who modeled self-worth, strength, and courage, who are dedicated to their own ideals and pursuits of happiness, health, and making the world a better place, who have taken care of those I love—I honor you and THANK YOU. Mothering is a calling, a practice, a crucible, and a responsibility, and we all do it—female or male, with children of our bodies or without. It’s an expression of our humanity.

I hope your Mother’s Day was as lovely as mine!

Spring Break

OK, I am happy to admit this week of Spring Break is turning out to be really great. My husband is on vacation, so we are all together. I’m enjoying everyone’s company. This is not to say that every moment is stress-free, but family life is easier when two parents are around to mediate squabbles, entertain, converse with, fetch, help with runny noses, and feed us all. Ian and I can kind of tag-team and that’s a sanity saver. I love being able to reach out and touch him whenever I want to, to know he’s got my back or an eye on the children when I am otherwise occupied with editing or some other task.

Useful, fun projects are getting done around here, too, like planting flowers and our first vegetables of the spring/summer growing season, and fixing broken gates. It’s lovely to be outdoors in this gorgeous, comfortable weather! Short sleeves for Ian and Lucas and me. Asher’s a bit more bundled in long sleeves and sweat pants because of his cold.

Today I spent several productive, happy hours filling my wheel barrow full of gorgeous mulch from my friends Zindelo and Jeanne and spreading it in my backyard flowerbeds. It was nice and easy work on a cool day with a satisfying result. I also planted pansies and petunias in areas where the sprinklers overspray. Putting new plants in my yard is easy; making sure they all have a source of water they’ll desperately need in the hot Sacramento summers is the hard part.

The other day, when my back was sore, Ian planted for me: 3 Spanish lavenders, 3 azaleas, 2 geraniums, 1 blueberry bush, 1 magnolia tree, 1 lilac, and 1 orange-flowering perennial whose name I forget. It’s supposed to bloom almost year-round.

Ian and I have even had two lovely dates this week, which gives us time to refresh and reengage with each other. It’s good to remember why we got into this family business in the first place: because we LIKE each other and want to be together. Last night we got to see Elvis Costello play at the Mondavi Center in Davis. He was solo, and the music was terrific. I didn’t enjoy everything he played, but most of it. A good mix of old and new tunes.

Even as I’m enjoying my time at home this week, my mind is turning outward to summer activities. I’m starting to explore some summer camp options for Lucas. I am excited to learn that the Discovery Museum has two summer camps for 7/8-year-olds, on the topics of general science and space exploration. I think he’ll eat them up. I’ve carefully broached the subject of the Magic Circle Theatre summer production (you know, without letting on how FREAKING AWESOME it would be for me to see Lucas joyfully performing onstage). He’s interested. I’ll probably ask him a few more times before signing him up—to let him think about it a bit first.

Tomorrow we’re going on a ramble all together. We may head to Sutter Creek and see what we can see, or perhaps up to Placerville or Nevada City. Really, it doesn’t matter much. My eyes crave new sights. So long as there is one winery to stop at, I’ll be happy, as I am right now.

We Are Full

Today

Valentine’s Day

A day of love and friendship

We’re not so keen on the Hallmark variety of romance this year.

Can’t afford the expensive prix fixe meal at the hoity-toity, gourmet restaurant.

Two kids in tow isn’t exactly the way to make that meal happen anyway.

So instead, we opened our house to friends, both old and new.

Saw a friend whom we haven’t seen in nearly 10 years.

Saw a friend who is recovering from surgery.

Saw two friends who just returned from Costa Rican travels.

Saw school friends whom we usually see only during the week.

Saw friends who made it back in time to visit, even though they didn’t think they could.

Saw a lovely bunch of friends from the Bay Area who drove in to visit.

Saw many friends we see too, too rarely.

Saw friends we see almost every day.

Saw friends we’ve known since high school.

We are full.

Filled up with their loving presence,

their hugs, conversation,

understanding and smiles,

filled up with strawberry bread, egg scramble, and rice and beans,

with cinnamon rolls, quinoa pilaf, and fruit,

with spicy pork and salmon,

with champagne, coffee, and OJ

with butternut squash, avocadoes, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and frittata.

Life is so full.

I’m in LOVE and happy.

Highlights from Daddy’s Birthday

My darling husband had a birthday last Friday; he turned “26” (which stands to reason since I turned “25” again this year and he’ll always be older than me).

Asher and Lucas and I baked him a lovely apple cake. The kids chopped the apples. It went kind of like this: “One for Daddy’s cake. One for me. One for Daddy’s cake. One fore me.”

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Here’s the cake before we frosted it with butter cream frosting and topped it with colorful sprinkles. Damn, it was good! Moist and spicy with nutmeg. I used the Apple Hill recipe and it turned out perfect.

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I roasted a chicken (and basted it with butter, garlic, and curry powder), which was beautiful and golden but I didn’t get a photo. I prepared a wonderful spinach salad and cauliflower purée, too. (It’s delish and a lot like mashed potatoes but not nearly so carby.) Ian’s sister and her boyfriend (we love them both dearly) joined us for dinner to help us celebrate. They brought the “Beatles Rock Band” game with all the equipment. We all played the game together and had a wonderful time!

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Lucas was great at singing “Yellow Submarine.” I haven’t sung into a mic in … well, 20 years. So that was both weird and really fun.

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Asher liked the colors on the game, but got discouraged or embarrassed at one point and gave up.

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On Saturday, a beautiful, chilly fall day, we got to celebrate with just grown ups. Ian and NoNo and I ate lunch in Placerville and then drove to a little town in the Sierra foothills called Fairplay. It’s south of Apple Hill and has lots of wineries to visit. We went to three of them and tasted Sirahs and Syrahs, and Cabernets and Sauvignon Blancs, Zins and Merlots, Muscats and Ports, and a couple of varietals that I’ve never before heard of. It was lovely, although I found after a while that tasting every other wine was a better plan for me.

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At the Winery by the Creek we got a treat we’d never before experienced. We tasted wine directly from the barrel. Young wine is weird and you have to try to “taste it forward.” For me, that didn’t mean much, but that’s probably because by the time we arrived there I was mostly done with wine tasting. We considered the merits of wine futures for the first time. NoNo was really tempted by both the Zinfandel and the Port, but left without buying either.

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Ian and I came home with about six bottles after our adventure. We gave one to my folks as a way of thanking them for watching our boys for the afternoon.

Back-to-School Adventures

There dims in damp autumnal air

The senses’ luring magic;

The light’s revealing radiance

Is dulled by hazy veils of mist.

In distances around me I can see

The autumn’s winter sleep;

The summer’s life has yielded

Itself into my keeping.

—Rudolf Steiner (verse for the week of September 8–14)

It’s been a busy, busy week full of adjustments for everyone. Lucas went back to school on Tuesday. There was much rejoicing by his proud parents. He looked ready,  brave, and determined.

Lucas and Asher on the first day of school.

Lucas and Asher on the first day of school.

Honestly, I’m so excited for him. This year is going to be wonderful, full of friends, new confidence, Saints and fables to inspire us, as well as dragons to conquer.

Right before entering the second-grade classroom.

Right before entering the second-grade classroom.

We have had some struggles this week. Daddy had to go out of town for a conference on Wednesday morning, and we are emotionally at sea without our anchor. We are used to our days without Daddy, but when evening sneaks in we all look around at each other and miss him terribly. Asher has had a much harder than usual time at Ring-A-Rosies preschool and had to be picked up early two days. He is adjusting to Lucas being gone at school and Daddy not coming home at night, and he’s quite sure the scenario stinks. “I miss my daddy. I want my brother!”

As if to emphasize that change is in the air, Lucas’s top right incisor leaned sooooooo far out of his mouth that Lucas couldn’t help himself; he simply pried it out. And so, my 7-and-1/4-year-old son now has a giant window in his smile, and an adult tooth moving in fast.

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See how delighted he is?

Look at the size of that gap!

Look at the size of that gap!

As you can see, he is quite thrilled about the change and told me all about how he pushed the tooth back until it just popped out “… and there was this dangly gut thingy hanging there!”

We got to use the Tooth Fairy Pillow I made him for the third time, and this morning a $2 bill was sticking out of the pocket.

We all have big plans for the weekend: I’m flying down to Santa Barbara tonight for my first vacation alone with my husband in three years. I went to college in Santa Barbara for two years, and I haven’t been there since 1992. Ian and I courted there, so I’m thinking of this trip as a little honeymoon that we desperately need.

The boys will be going to my parents’ house, who will undoubtedly spoil them and feed them ice-cream sandwiches and sausages and pizza and all their favorite things. I can tell Lucas and Asher are anxious (as evidenced by the tantrums and invented neck aches and “too warm” foreheads), and possibly this isn’t the best weekend for me to leave them, after such an eventful week. And I’m tempted to feel tremendously guilty about it.

Nevertheless, I’m carrying on in the belief that a happy, rested mama, who has had the chance to have fun, reconnect with her husband, and recharge her marriage, will be a better mother for them in the long run.

And they will be fine.

A Love Story

 

1990 … August 11 … There was a party in Steve and Bryn’s parents’ backyard. There were friends and food, performances, and Greek garb. The stars were out and falling in showers; we drank honey wine and ate grapes. It was a magical beginning for the most magical relationship of my life. Later, in a new town there was a dorm room with pink cabbage roses and white lace on the bedclothes.

1991 … Our long-distance love affair involved letter-writing every day and much driving between Sacramento and Santa Barbara. We shared precious walks on the beach and expensive phone bills. We enjoyed Ren Faire adventures with new friends and poor breathing. Sacramento pulled me home, but I couldn’t come back yet.

1992 … I started a new life in Berkeley. Ancient Greek and Latin studies for me, Bio and sciences for you. The distance didn’t hurt so bad and we saw each other much more often.  We designed rituals and challenged ourselves. We studied magic of many types.

1993 … We broke up, kinda. You needed to leave and see something new. We got back together after a wild run through the snow. You worked construction and sold your car, and we drove to LA together to put you on a plane to Sweden. I wrote a book for you and kissed you goodbye. Later, I left for Scotland. We met again on foreign soil and walked through a candlelit cemetery. We were handfasted one eerie night on a glowing beach by the North Sea. We had the sweetest, loneliest Christmas together in Scotland.

1994 … You surprised me on a Friday evening by winging your way across two countries via trains, planes, buses, and automobiles. We got engaged accidentally when you knocked on my door at midnight. We traveled across Europe together, sleeping in a tent, in trains, in hostels, mostly apart. We argued and figured out how to work together. We graduated college and I lived with you and your father for a while. We made Reggae on Sunday mornings. We didn’t know what we wanted in life, but we knew we wanted to be together.

1995 … We finally moved into our own apartment together!  It was perfect. P Street friends and many shared meals were fun. We were married on June 3 and it was so good. We honeymooned in Oregon. You were getting your teaching credential. I lost a job and got an internship. We had no dough for six months; we lived on kisses, I think.

1996 … I began working at Prima—a lot. You taught a grade 1-2 class full of disadvantaged kids. It hurt and you wanted to bring them all home with you because they weren’t getting enough love, or food, or dental care. I fell in love with you that much more.

1997 … We became fencers, briefly. We ran at Hiram Johnson High School track together. You attended classes at Rudolf Steiner college, thinking that teaching Waldorf kids would be better. Then you started working with technology and we got a little richer. We locked our TV in the garage and didn’t watch it for two years.

1998 … We worked hard, long hours and saved every dime we could. We lived at my grandmother’s house on 15th Avenue. We went to Hawaii with my parents and the house almost burned down. Technology was better for you in some ways and worse in others.

1999 … We hosted a wedding in grandma’s backyard. We bought our home in June! We attended Burning Man for the first time, but just for two days and it blew our minds. We started planning for more trips to the playa. We were happy and free to move and pursue our interests. I learned to weave. You studied a lot.

2000 … We froze at Burning Man and nearly lost our shelter! Prima layoffs happened and some friends were affected. We built a geodesic dome in our backyard from scratch. We talked about kids and I was scared. We went to New Mexico with your dad to visit family, and then struck out on our own to explore. We read lots and lots of books.

2001 … We went to Burning Man with many friends. Some boots talked to you. Weird times followed, including 9/11 and a pregnancy. We waded through hormones and anxiety together. Would we be decent parents together? What if our marriage changed? We left Kaiser for midwife care instead. We both dreamed we were having a girl. We madly painted fish onto bedroom walls.

2002 … Birthing classes, new friends. Oops, didn’t finish the class because on May 1st, Lucas baby arrived. Everything changed. I turned 30. This year was hard and lonely for both of us, but also exquisitely beautiful and extraordinary. We didn’t sleep. We struggled to find our places in this new three-part family. I worked from home. Your high-paying job laid you off when Lucas was 4 months old. Now what? You investigated autism.

2003 … You went to work for TAC helping disabled kids. I was so proud of you! My employer asked me to come back and I got so, so sad. We employed a nanny until we realized that I couldn’t be away from home for 55 to 60 hours per week. I left in August after 6.5 years and went freelance. Freelance? What the heck does that mean? We struggled and little Lucas toddled. We visited Hawaii again, with a baby in backpack.

2004 … We took two-year old Lucas to Burning Man and he got pneumonia! We left, feeling like the worst parents ever. He started preschool across the street. You taught little kids to talk, both at work and at home. And we felt so grateful to have this perfect child.

2005 … I started writing on LiveJournal, recording our daily victories and struggles. It helped me stay connected and made me saner. You untangled many knots at work. I began making more money freelancing and we started feeling comfy again. Lucas attended Treasure Garden preschool after some weird hiccups. He spent his days playing outdoors. He was wild.

2006 … Lucas turned 4 and we looked around and thought, “Oh, weren’t we going to have another baby?” And then suddenly there was a bun in the oven. We joined the PSA and the three of us went to Burning Man for one last fling before baby. Mommy got depressed. Lucas started kindergarten. We waited. You worked on a master’s degree.

2007 … Asher arrived in a rush. Oops! We had a baby in the shower. I got sick. Really sick. Hospital and terror. You were mommy and daddy to our kids for a short time. And then there was a slow healing, with a newborn at my side. He eventually got the OK to breastfeed and then I proceeded to fatten him up. You and I both suffered from a little PTSD, I think. Dreamy, sleepy days and nights dominated that first year.

2008 … Asher turned 1. I finished my textbook. You became an executive. Weird. Lucas turned 6 and went to first grade! I experienced my slowest year ever, which gave me lots of time with the kids, but it was also worrisome. We worked hard, ceaselessly supporting this family of four. You were unflagging and lovely and became a brand-new BCBA. I didn’t sleep enough.

2009 … Stressful work for you, easier times for me. Lucas turned 7 and we threw him the most amazing birthday party. Asher learned to talk and made us laugh every day. We lean on each other, as we always have. We love faithfully and intensely.

To Be Continued …

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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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