Michaelmas 2018: Embody the Dragon

This year, my younger son’s sixth-grade class got to build and embody the dragon at our school’s Michaelmas festival, which was held on September 28. This is a huge project and several very talented parents in our class took on this work. I’m so very grateful for their time and talents in this endeavor. Huge thank yous to Criss, Nar, David, Mike, and Brian, who sculpted the head; David, who fashioned the wings; to Sandra, who sewed the tail; to Sandra, Tamu, and others who helped the kids glitter the dragon skin; to Melissa and Brian, who helped the children make the hats/dragon spines; I know Neva was there throughout and I’m sure that I’m forgetting to credit others who helped.

This year, the class decided that their dragon would be white. No one could remember a time when the dragon was white. They wanted it to be sparkly and shimmering, so we spent a day painting with with spray glitter and gold and silver paints.

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I think they said we used 40 yards of silk.

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At our school, the traditional Michaelmas festival involves the fearsome dragon interrupting the peaceful village, while the villagers are dancing and singing. With a great booming of drums, the dragon enters the village and the villagers go running.

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These lovely sixth graders are in the belly of the beast, so to speak, dealing with all the social and emotional and intellectual challenges that come with the age. Friendships change, they adapt to more difficult schoolwork, and the difficulties of individuation and finding themselves, and figuring out what matters to them—what side they stand on in all manner of issues great and small.

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A brave knight, George (played by a high school senior), with the help of the Archangel Michael, faces the dragon. Michael imbues George with goodness and strength to tame the dragon.

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Second graders and twelfth graders surround the dragon. With their will and their love, they subdue its threat and make it tame.

When I conquer within me fear and wrath,

Michael in heaven casts the dragon forth.

 

Firmly on the Earth I stand.

Michael’s sword within my hand.

When I conquer fear, the dragon’s chains I tightly bind.

Michael’s light is in my mind.

When I thrust against the monster’s might

Michael is at my side.

 

Harken all, the time has come!

When all the world at last the truth shall hear,

Then the lion shall lie down with the lamb.

Our lances shall be turned to reaping hooks,

Swords and guns be cast as plowshares.

Nations shall live in lasting peace.

All men unite as brothers.

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My dear Asher is always so funny. He is a beacon of light in my life.

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Second graders pose with the dragon that they helped to subdue. (They are studying the saints this year.)

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On the one hand, it’s just a school festival—a bunch of kids, organized by grades, dressed in costume and performing in a pageant. On the other hand, it’s a massive effort full of heart, an event that affirms and builds community, pulling in people whose children have long-ago outgrown the school. It’s a place where innocence and courage are embodied, where we can urge and model stepping out to boldly stand up for our values and confront the things that threaten to make us weaker, fearful, and divided. There is no lack of dragons like that to confront in our world today.

Matthew Barton, writing in the introduction to a reader of Steiner writings and talks touching on Michaelmas, says this moment in which we live is awakening us “to the consequences of our own actions in many different spheres, asking us to exercise moral judgement and take responsibility for ourselves and the planet. To reconnect consciously. And increasingly it is becoming clear, in a way similar to the wider vistas that open up as leaves fall, that a battle is raging between these developing forces of sensitivity, awareness and responsibility and those—really there is not other word—demonic self-interest, social divisiveness and materialism, often, let’s not deceive ourselves, combined within each one of us. So the battle is with and within ourselves.”

I’m very fond of this festival. Here is where I wrote about Lucas’s sixth-grade Michaelmas dragon.

Michaelmas: New Dragons

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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Halloween Fun

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“Don’t torture yourself, Gomez. That’s my job.”

What can I say? We LOVE Halloween! And I know we’ve just had Thanksgiving and I am behind as usual, but these pics are just too cute not to post. In a moment of last minute inspiration, Ian and I decided to dress as Gomez and Morticia Addams.

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Morticia: When we first met years ago, it was an evening much like this. Magic in the air. A boy.
Gomez: A girl.
Morticia: An open grave. It was my first funeral.
Gomez: You were so beautiful. Pale and mysterious. No one even looked at the corpse.

We went to a party hosted by the family of one of Asher’s best friends. There was ghoulish fun for the kids, including an impromptu toilet paper fight (after the mummy making, of course), and good wine and conversation for the grown-ups.

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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Asher went as a king in shining armor. We bought a costume modeled on a character from a video game that none of us knew anything about. For him, it was all about the boss costume. We shopped for it online because time was short, and Asher said, “Mom, are you sure you want to spend that much money on me?” Oh, yes, my little Love. Yes, I do.

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#halloween #king

The sword with the lion head on it sealed the deal. And of course, he needed a bloody wound. This so perfectly shows how he’s in-between: kind of a big kid, kind of not.

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Lucas wasn’t feeling especially inspired this year as he has been many years in the past. However, he pulled out a creepy zombie getup with ease.

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Asher got to play with some of his buddies from school at the party. (Thanks to Melissa for the photo!)

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Most wonderful time of the year!

Halloween itself was on a rainy Monday evening, and we happily joined friends for a bit of trick-or-treating in East Sacramento. This year, the Halloween Fairy was not invoked, nor did she trade gifts for our boys’ candy (for her wee sugar babies to eat). The kids ate some, and the rest, well … it disappears relatively quickly.

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

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

Remembering My Grandmothers

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It’s November, a time when many cultures remember their dear, departed loved ones. I happened to read today about a Chinese goddess named Dou Mou, who is the goddess of the north star. People call on her to protect the spirits of their dead and to keep the living safe from illness. It’s said that people write messages to the dead and then burn them so the message can be delivered in the smoke by Dou Mou.

I am thinking a lot about feminine power and wisdom, after my special weekend. Today happens to be the anniversary of my grand aunt’s death. Yesterday was the anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s death. They died two years and 365 days apart. I was inspired to write to them and to my maternal grandmother, who has been gone fifteen years, I think.


 

Dear Mabel,

You were so clever and kind. I sometimes didn’t know how to relate to you, but it got better as I got older. You always encouraged me to think and stand up for myself. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in your home for a little over a year while Ian and I were saving money to buy our house. It was a lovely little home and it made me feel good knowing you lived there with my mom, aunts and uncles. It was a happy time for us, in that sweet little house.

I regret not coming to see you after you moved out of your home. I regret it a lot. I was just very self-absorbed, working long days and long weeks, and fully involved in my marriage and newlywed life and friends. I was selfish. I am sorry. I miss you.

I will always love you.

Sara

 

Dear Nana,

Today is the anniversary of your death. I miss you a lot, especially whenever I pick up my paintbrushes to paint. I am grateful for all the love and abundance you showered me with in my life. I am most grateful for the support you gave to my intellectual and artistic pursuits. You gave me my first camera. You gave me paints and canvas, and endless drawing supplies. I wish I could discuss art and painting with you now. I wish I could see more of the art you made in your youth and while you were teaching. I miss you.

I will always love you.

Sara

 

Dear RoRo,

My heart aches when I think of you, RoRo. You have been gone now two years. I miss your warm smile, your smell, your soft skin, even your mumbling, whispering words that were so hard to understand at the end. I miss our shopping trips and especially the trips to the nursery. I miss talking to you about flowers. Thank you for your boundless generosity. You gave me so many advantages in life. You made me feel special and wanted, even when I was bratty and selfish, even while I was pulling away to do my own thing. I wish that you could see me now, see my boys growing up. I know they’re scruffy, but they’re kind and smart and brave and they take care of each other. You loved them so much, and I think you would like them too. I have started wearing your orange silk kimono. I never saw you wear it, never imagined you would own such a garment. That you did has allowed me to imagine you as a woman, and not just my grandma. It fills me with wondering. I miss you.

I will always love you.

Sara

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.

Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving
THANK YOU
for all my hands can hold—
apples red,
and melons gold,
yellow corn
both ripe and sweet,
peas and beans
so good to eat!

THANK YOU
for all my eyes can see—
lovely sunlight,
field and tree,
white cloud-boats
in sea-deep sky,
soaring bird
and butterfly.

THANK YOU
for all my ears can hear—
birds’ song echoing
far and near,
songs of little
stream, big sea,
cricket, bullfrog,
duck and bee!
—Ivy O. Eastwick

 

To my parents, thank you for all the unflagging faith, love, friendship, and for all you do to support me and my family, even still, even though I’m 42.

To my brother, thank you for being so steadfast, and for opening up.

To my in-laws, thank you for the love and comfort, for your respect, for the constant love you flow to my children.

To my sons, thank you for so much joy and inspiration, for being so resilient when we mess up, for shining your pure and perfect light into our lives, and for loving us completely.

To my friends, who are legion, near and far, thank you for the laughs, adventures, trust, time, attention, caring, honesty, support, forgiveness, courage, vulnerability, strength, creativity, madness, and dreams.

To my husband, who is my whole heart, my earth, my home, and my fire, who teaches, scrubs, weeps, strives, laughs, heals, parents, and sleeps beside me, thank you for everything you are and for loving me.

I am blessed beyond deserving, beyond measure. And I am grateful.

 

Love Is …

First time in months #painting #oils #art #learning

  • Ian buying me new windshield wipers and installing them, and fixing my rear brake light because he noticed it was out.
  • Lucas making rock candy at home because he learned how in chemistry class!
  • My Daddy.
  • Friends who trust and follow you into the fire, then lead you safely out again.
  • Meal planning and thinking about all the good food to put into all the good people I love.
  • When my guys give me gratitudes to write in our gratitude journal, even though they’d rather not.
  • Heavy whipping cream in my coffee.
  • Friends who make a special point to walk together on their rare day off.
  • Painting for the first time in 9 months. I love it so! Why the hell don’t I paint more often?!
  • Forgiving myself for not painting more often.
  • Buying all-new concert dress clothes/shoes for my boy for Thursday’s fall concert, and hoping-hoping-hoping they will still fit for the spring concert—or if not then, at least for next month’s winter concert.
  • VoVo’s consistent and helpful babysitting.
  • November, ablaze with fall color, and roses blooming too!
  • My sunny boy with Shaun Cassidy hair.
  • Reading about adventuring hedgehogs with my sunny boy.
  • Parent-teacher conferences.
  • A fluffy dog who is always ready to clean your paws for you.
  • 5k Fun Run for my moody son, who benefited from it even if he didn’t think it was all that fun.
  • My grandmother and my grandaunt, who have passed away. I miss them very much right now.
  • Ian reading The Golden Compass aloud to us, after reading more than 5,000 pages of Harry Potter to us this year.
  • Lyra Belacqua herself. Because boys need girl heroes too.
  • Pulling out beloved, ancient comic books for Lucas to read.
  • Friends who cook delicious meals as a way to celebrate their birthday with guests.
  • Trusting and watching a new chapter unfold.

Elf Quest #comics #12yearold #seventhgrade #son

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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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