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.

Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

Magical Spring

My forsythia

My eyes have been joyful lately, seeing beauty everywhere. This last month has been full of blossoms and blue skies, and I grabbed as many pretty shots as I could along the way. It’s not quite spring, technically, but there’s plenty of springtime magic to behold.

We four #family #waldorfhome #spring #winterturnstospring

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See the star?

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The early spring light is sometimes warm and buttery, sometimes watery and wan.

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Trees stretch their lacy blooms skyward.

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Winter has no power over me #sacramento #California #visitsacramento #winter #mardigras

Tiny lawn flowers seem to say, “Winter has no power over me!”

Sunny, 72 degrees #sacramento #visitsacramento #California

The almonds in particular have put on quite a show, and the quince is by far the sassiest of all.

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Demure snowdrops sway quietly on the edges, like girls at a cotillion.

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My favorites, perhaps, are the plumb blossoms. They arrive in a rush; one moment the tree is bare, the next it’s enveloped in a cloud of pink. They don’t stay long, just a brief spell. Then they float down to the ground, whole flowers intact, and the earth below is transformed into fairyland.

Mandala

Mandala #waldorfhome #winter #winterturnstospring #flowers #mandala

I needed a break from some difficult paperwork I’m doing. The financial kind. Ew. So I did two really great things for fun today. I went to the used bookstore with four bags of books, got store credit, and came home with one bag of new-to-us books. And I made this little mandala from flowers in my yard. It took a few minutes. It made me happy.

 

 

Imbolc and Midwinter

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We live in California’s great Central Valley, where arguably, we have a kind of fake winter. We put up symbols of deep winter, and cope pretty easily with inconveniences like fog and brief freezes that kill garden plants.

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Imbolc, or Candlemas, if you prefer, marks the middle point of winter.  Signs of spring are always welcome no matter where you live, don’t you think? The lengthening days bring a bit of relief from gray winter doldrums. Not much of a “proper” winter, truth be told. As evidence, I present this daffodil, which bloomed on January 26.

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These two lambs were born this morning at our school’s farm. Farmer Steve estimates they arrived without help at around 6:30 this morning. I would have missed them completely, as they were kind of hunkered down and resting, but Farmer Steve pointed them out to us. We couldn’t get very close, so it’s not a great shot. But there they are, small, briefly feeble, and perfect.

“The source of increasing light and heat is Brigid. On Imbolc, she moves across the land, bringing the promise of renewal and the return of joy. The name Imbolc means “in the belly,” and Oimelc means ‘ewe’s milk.’ The fertility of sheep and the abundance of their life-sustaining milk are at the root of this holy day. The dangerous part of winter, when sheep might die, when lambs might freeze, has passed. The tribe has survived.” This is from Tending Brigid’s Flame, by Lunaea Weatherstone.

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I wrote a bit about Brigid and Imbolc in the past here.

 

Atticus the llama and his wooly friends

(This handsome fellow is Atticus the llama. He looks after the sheep.)

 

Older lamb, about a month old

The other three lambs at school were born about a month ago; they’re looking robust and strong. Weatherstone says, “Brigid is the life force embodied. Brigid is the protector of all newborn creatures, and she blesses new mothers with abundant milk and the instinctive knowledge of nurturance.”

“Brigid of the lambs,
Brigid of gentleness,
Brigid of the new milk,
I welcome you in.”

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Everywhere there is a quickening, it seems. My plants are beginning to grow again. The sun is shining brighter, stronger, with more vigor than before. Snowdrops and jonquils are coming up, and soon the forsythia and quince will be blooming.

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Today I discovered we had the all stuff to make a Brigid’s cross. I’ve wanted to make one for a long time, but never have. After dinner, Lucas sat down and helped me do it, and we talked a bit about Brigid, and why I’m interested in her. It went kind of like this, “So, for me, as a woman, observing and existing in a world that is usually trying to erase or omit the contributions of girls and women, and seeing religions either actively not liking us and saying we’re bad, or thinking so little of us that they ignore us completely, for me, the goddesses like Brigid are interesting, meaningful, and important.” He said something like, “Yeah, I can see why you might feel that way.” And he tied on the thread to make the cross arms.

Making our first Brigid's cross.

First Brigid's cross

I thought it might also be nice to provide some winter treats for the birds. This seems like a nice activity for Imbolc. But we’re going to have to do it tomorrow. Also, if I am really ambitious tomorrow, I may clean out my fireplace. “This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing power of the sun. It is also a festival of light and fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches, and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth,” according to Cunningham’s Wicca book.

Happy Imbolc to all! May you find inspiration and renewal in the day, and find nourishment for your dreams and your energies for new challenges quickening.

I’ll write more later about Asher’s 9th birthday, which totally consumed our weekend with festivities and delights aplenty.

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!

May Day Is Coming!

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I can’t believe I didn’t post about May Day last year! My beautiful niece (that’s the simplest title) danced in her school’s May Day celebration with her eighth-grade classmates. My little son played a part with his fellow first graders in our school’s May Day celebration, too. I must have been really busy this time last year—or overwhelmed—to have missed saying how proud I am of these young people and how truly enchanted I feel by this festival so cherished by Waldorf schools.

Well, as we head into this year’s May Day celebration, and my beloved older son’s Beltane birthday, I will conjure all the beauty of this celebration with photos from last year, 2014. Indulge me.

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This is my sweet T, who is the most delightfully sweet force of nature. She is wicked smart, and funny, and charming, and kind, and diabolical, and beautiful, and compassionate, and bossy, and a born leader, and I love her deeply.

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And I was bursting with pride at this moment.

8th grade dancers #mayday #magic #maypole #festivals #holiday #goldenvalleycharterschool #family #spring #waldorf

These are shots from Golden Valley Charter School’s May Faire, May 2014. The whole school community came out on a gorgeous morning to celebrate. All the classes wore white. They have a lovely May Queen every year in their celebration. Their graduating eighth graders dance the May Pole. It is every bit as charming in 2014 as it was in 1814. You can look up vintage May dance photos to see for yourself.

The May-Pole (Excerpt)

The May-pole is up,
Now give me the cup,
I’ll drink to the garlands around it;
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown’d it.

—Robert Herrick

My lovely son #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool#waldorf #mayday #magic #7yearold #firstgrade

And there’s just nothing in the world like a boy you love festooned in flowers!

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May-Baskets

Let us take our baskets early 
   To the meadows green, 
While the wild-flowers still are pearly 
   With the dewdrops’ sheen. 

Fill them full of blossoms rosy, 
   Violets and gay 
Cowslips, every pretty posy 
   Welcoming the May. 

Then our lovely loads we’ll carry 
   Down the village street, 
On each door, with laughter merry, 
   Hang a basket sweet. 

Hey-a-day-day! It is spring now, 
   Lazy folks, awake! 
See the pretty things we bring now 
   For the May-day’s sake!

—Evaleen Stein

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At Sacramento Waldorf School, where my children go, the first graders shower the dancers with rose petals as they enter and exit, and decorate the field with petals.

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(Poor kid! I made his crown too big.)

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I have written about this special festival before. I shared our experiences of celebrating May Day in the Waldorf kindergarten, too. That this festival comes every year doesn’t seem to diminish its beauty or freshness. That must be because these shining faces are growing and changing each year. Each year a new crop of lovely eighth graders take up their ribbons and dance their hearts out. It’s a bit of an endurance event; they work to weave and wrap the pole and an intricate, well-practiced way, practically down to the ground.

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The little ones adore the rose petal “fight” at the end. This part isn’t scripted, but they all do it every year, with gusto and giggles aplenty. Such joy and silliness! The petals fly and the the parents wildly snap photos.

Lucas is absent from these shots from last year, though he was there. The sixth grade doesn’t have a special roll to play in the May Day festival, so he could just hang out with his friends and watch. This year, however, his seventh-grade class will be playing the music for the dancers. I’m really looking forward to that!

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Blessings on your Beltane!

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day.  May we all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all.

Happy Earth Day!

Our little patch of Earth is presently covered in flowers. All of my beautiful plants are laughing uproariously in color. It makes me happy.

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No filter Aurora, I think

California is experiencing a very serious drought. And I’m conflicted about having a garden at all. I’ve been building and growing and tending this little oasis of ours for 16 years now. I think often about taking out my lawn, but then I watch my children playing in our yard and feel so grateful that we have a place to play! I am withholding water from these plants. I’m taking Navy showers (brrr!) and saving every drop of rainwater I can capture whenever water does come from the sky.

I promise to bathe my children rarely. I promise to make them wear the same pajamas several nights in a row. I promise to save shower water. I promise to let the yellow mellow at night. I promise to eat less meat. I promise to plant only drought-tolerant plants. I promise I will only drink coffee and champagne from now on if I can keep my garden alive this summer!

Foxgloves are coming

So far, the yard is doing pretty well on water rations, but the temperatures are still cool.

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Last week Asher asked if we could make a cactus garden. I bought him three little cactuses and brought a few more from my kitchen window out so he could make this. He painted the vine wreath with green and red paint, and then we buried it into the little garden so it looks like an arch now.

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We also planted a tiny vegetable garden. I debated about this, but figured it was a good cause, especially since the drip watering system will be watering this box anyway. We planted 2 sungold tomatoes, 1 rainbow tomato (that might be the name), two types of cucumber (one is a lemon cucumber), 1 summer squash, 1 Japanese eggplant, 2 purple basil, 2 sweet basil. (We like to make pesto.)

Today, after school, I’m going to see if I can get the boys to plant some seeds with me and do some art for Earth Day.

And now poetry:

The Robin’s Song

God bless the field and bless the furrow,
Stream and branch and rabbit burrow,
Hill and stone and flower and tree,
From Bristol town to Wetherby –
Bless the sun and bless the sleet,
Bless the land and bless the street,
Bless the night and bless the day,
From Somerset and all the way
To the meadows of Cathay;
Bless the minnow, bless the whale,
Bless the rainbow and the hail,
Bless the nest and bless the leaf,
Bless the righteous and the thief,
Bless the wing and bless the fin,
Bless the air I travel in,
Bless the mill and bless the mouse,
Bless the miller’s bricken house,
Bless the earth and bless the sea,
God bless you and God bless me!
—Old English Rhyme

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Canticle to the Sun

Praised be God for brother Sun,
Who shines with splendid glow,
He brings the golden day to us,
Thy glory does he show!
Praised be God for sister Moon
And every twinkling star;
They shine in heaven most bright and clear,
All glorious they are.
Praised be God for brother Wind
That storms across the skies,
And then grows still, and silent moves
And sweetly sings and sighs.
Praised be God for Water pure,
Her usefulness we tell,
So humble, precious, clean and good,
She works for us so well.
Praised be God for brother Fire
Friendly and wild and tame,
Tender and warm, mighty and strong,
A flashing, flaring flame.
Praised be to God for mother Earth,
Who keeps us safe and well,
Whose mother heart all warm with love,
Dark in her depths doth dwell.
—St. Francis of Assisi

Here are a few links I’ve enjoyed this week, and thought you might like them too:

Plantable gift wrapping paper

Plantable paper earths with seeds

Crochet earth ball pattern. I wish I could make this but I can’t crochet!

Recycle your Crayola markers

Green gifts from National Resources Defense Council

Elemental play book

Finally, our Late Spring Festivals E-Book is on sale for 50% off at Little Acorn Learning. It’s only $12.50 until 4/24/15.

OK. This was a rambling post. It’s what I get for trying to cram weeks of living into one blog. So, back to the message:

Happy Earth Day to all beings near and far, finned and furry, scaly and feathered, mossy and green. May we humans all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all. ~~~~

Easter Gnomes

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It’s a bit late, but these are so sweet, I had to share them. These vintage and German Easter cards with gnomes are too cute.

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Lilacs

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My plan for today was to take my family to Volcano to see the daffodils at Daffodil Hill, then have lunch somewhere quaint, drive through the countryside, and maybe visit Indian Grinding Rock. It’s a perfect day, cool with some cloud cover. The grass is green, the light’s pretty even—ideal for photos.

Instead, Asher’s sick. (I wish this child could catch a break!) Three of us are home; we let Lucas escape with his bestie. Ian is working. I will soon start working. We’re doing necessary things instead of what we wanted to do. It’s fine, really. There’s laundry and other chores …

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Still, I’m feeling a little glum while the scent of lilacs wafts through my window. Thank goodness for lilacs.

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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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