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When I was little, my father would say my prayers with me every night. He would start, with “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, that familiar prayer that was a staple of so many childhoods. But he altered the words “If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.” I suspect he found it to be an unthinkable thought, and didn’t want us to think it as we went to sleep. Our version was “All through the night, may angels spread protecting wings above my bed.” I still find that prayer a comfort, along with the spontaneous ones I now have as an adult.

Our world needs many prayers these days. Tonight, I am sending special prayers to the people in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. 53,000 people have been evacuated from that city due to an explosive wildfire. The fire has moved into the city. Whole neighborhoods have been destroyed. There is no more gas in the city. People are running out of gas and getting stuck in traffic, or by the side of the road, as flames move ever closer.

May I say, as I listen to radio coverage from Edmonton, and phone interviews with high school seniors, fire chiefs, and other citizens, that everyone sounds so calm and polite and well-spoken and pragmatic that it just makes me want to hug them all. Or go be a Canadian.

We in Colorado, particularly those  in the Colorado Springs area, went through a similar disaster a few years ago. I remember watching live coverage on the news, and truly, it looked like my vision of  hell. The earth and the people still hold the scars. Here, we pray for enough snowpack to help prevent wildfires, but not so much as to cause floods such as the devastating one we experienced in 2013.

So tonight, and tomorrow, and likely the next day, please join me in saying a prayer for the people of Fort McMurray and the brave firefighters and first responders who risk their lives to help keep others’ lives intact. And if you’re otherwise inclined, a little rain dance wouldn’t hurt.

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Iglesia de San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “The way sadness works is one of the strange riddles of the world. If you are stricken with a great sadness, you may feel as if you have been set aflame, not only because of the enormous pain, but also because your sadness may spread over your life, like smoke from an enormous fire. You might find it difficult to see anything but your own sadness, the way smoke can cover a landscape so that all anyone can see is black. You may find that if someone pours water all over you, you are damp and distracted, but not cured of your sadness, the way a fire department can douse a fire but never recover what has been burnt down.”   — Lemony Snicket

Daily gratitudes:
MKL’s eyes
A beautiful day
How green can fill my eyes
One working lawnmower in the family
The toddler playing in the dancing waters with her golden retriever trying to bite the streams

 

Mugs
Some days I want to drink my coffee
From a mug that reminds me of my mother.
It’s one on permanent loan from
The work kitchen of a now-defunct employer.

It’s gentle curves are like a mug my mother gave me,
A fine sheen, ivory and green, embossed with seashell art.
I lost that in the divorce, along with many things,
And drawers and cabinets full of pain and dead dreams.

My mother doesn’t know anything about that.
She died before it happened.
I often wonder
What she would think of me,
My life,
My choices,
Now.

But this curved mug
Is brown and green and embossed with trees
Like the ones my mother loved so much.

One of my favorite images is of her
Hugging a pine tree
In Rocky Mountain National Park.

So when I fill
The mug that reminds me of my mother,
With Folger’s crystals like my father used to drink,
It is as if I am having a small cup of coffee with my parents
Each morning.

That is a very fine way to start the day.

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Denver, Colorado. (This is my alternative mug, purchased for
me by MKL. I love it.)

Quote of the day: “I am the way a life unfolds and bloom and seasons come and go and I am the way the spring always finds a way to turn even the coldest winter into a field of green and flowers and new life.” – Charlotte Eriksson

Daily gratitudes:
The flat fall of Snowmaggdon
Favorite movies on a snow day
A super snuggly cat
Experimental eggs
Having a warm spot on a cold day

 

40 Years At Sarah P. Duke

Come spring, the siren calls of memories,
Whispers in the wind saying, “Come home,
Come home, the daffodils are rebellious in bloom,
And the pansies of the long gravel walk
Yearn for your gentle touch on each velvet petal.”
Those short stone walls clamber for the feel
Of my shoes balance-walking down them.
The wisteria palace is approaching bloom, vines
Enveloping the gazebo in fragrant violet magic
Promising blosson clusters and later, velvet seapods.
I stand at the edge of the steps, waiting for the view to
Empty of souls, so I can survey my own
Private kingdom.
A descent to the fountains, tricking cherubs
Where my father used to scoop coins from the shoulder-deep pools
Of wishing wells for us on hot summer days.
He is gone now, but the fountains still sparkle.
Criss-crossing rows of bark mulch paths
Through beds of tulips and butterly bushes
Into shade beds of hostas and lilies of the valley.
Still descending, still cross-crissing
To the koi pond teeming with water lilies and dragonflies,
Then up the slate stones, slightly slippery, as they pass
The trickle-down waterfall
To the big sitting rock – the peasant’s view of the garden kingdom.
Down across another little waterfall, through the dark shade
Of climbing magnolias
Into the big meadow beyond
Where Sarah and I drank little bottles of pink champagne
And lay among the dandelions discussing philosophy and world affairs
And boys
While basking in the sun and avoiding the bees.

This haven, with its empty grass hills, where I snuck in
With high school boyfriends for moonlit make out sessions,
With sky-high pine trees where I gathered greenery
For the mantel at Christmas, filling paper grocery bags
And leaving with cold, resin-stained fingers,
With its Japanese garden and arching bridge
Redolant with peace and solitude.

The gardens call to me, with memories of roses and sweat,
Sweetness and spring.

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Durham, North Carolina.

Quote of the Day: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Daily gratitudes:
Feeling some better
A talk with Charlotte
My voice when it sounds like Lauren Bacall
Spring coming
Soft blankets

 

 

 

I loved the colors of San Miguel. I could (and will) wander the streets for hours on end. It seemed that at every turn something new and different and beautiful caught my photographer’s eye. There were details, some accidental, some by design, and some a partnership with nature and the sun. But all were beautiful.

And I love bougainvillea. It was one of my Mother’s favorites. The first time I ever saw it was in San Francisco when I was 14. Mother hadn’t seen it in years, and was thrilled. She would have been delighted with this peach variation on the classic brilliant pink.

Weather report here in Colorado? Snow last Friday, 70 degrees today, snow on Wednesday. Welcome to Spring!

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “There’s a magic here working its way through my veins. There’s something about the vegetation, too, that I respond to instinctively – the stunning bougainvillea, the flamboyants and jacarandas, the orchids growing from the trunks of the mysterious ceiba trees.” — Cristina Garcia

Daily gratitudes:
Small barefoot toddlers
Meeting a dog at the bus stop this morning
MKL
Snagging the last bag of cat food for Mr. Man
Back-and-forth viewing between the presidential candidates and Dancing with the Stars

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