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A dream of wings

Once upon a time BunniHoTep was coming out of the Temple and came upon her friend Nestor sitting on the Temple steps. It was a beautiful winter day and the skies were clear and the winds were warm. A day when no one should look sad and Nestor looked very glum. BunniHoTep sat down next to Nestor. “What’s wrong Nestor?”

“Bastet has all her kittens running through the Temple granaries and we all had to run and hide.” Nestor, you see, was a mouse. A lovely all black mouse but nonetheless, a mouse. “I’m hungry and with those kittens running around there is nothing for me to eat and I’m hungry.”

“I’m very tired of running and I’m tired of being the only mouse that looks like me.” Nestor became quiet. Nestor was a very rare kind of mouse. He was really very beautiful. His coat was very thick and shiny. His eyes sparkled with mischief but in the Egyptian sunlight he was just too easy to see.

“Have you ever thought of coming out at night, you would be less easy to spot,” said BunniHoTep.

“To be quite frank, I see better at night than the other mice and I really don’t like grain that much. I’d rather eat flying bugs but I’m too close to the ground to get them often. I wish I could find a way to get up high over the Nile. There are lots of bugs there that those swallow birds don’t get. Wouldn’t it be nice to fly? If I had wings I could get them.”

BunniHoTep was impressed. She knew Nestor was quite shy and usually hid. And when he wasn’t hiding he was very quiet. She knew he had been thinking about this for a while to induce a flood of words like that. BunniHoTep thought about it for awhile and she thought she might have the answer to Nestor’s problem.

“Nestor, I think I can help you if you don’t mind a little pain and some help from Hathor. Would that be okay? BunniHotep asked.

“Do you really think you can help me?” Nestor cried.

“I think so. Run and ask Hathor to bring her sewing kit and meet me back here.”

Nestor took off at a run and BunniHoTep went into the Temple store room and came back with two strange objects that some travelers had brought back form China. She had been wondering to what use she could put them. She knew she would find a use someday for every thing there. She was the Finder, after all.

Nestor came back closely followed by Hathor and her large basket.

“Hathor, do you think you could sew these to Nestor’s shoulders?” BunniHoTep asked. She pulled out two shiny, black, silk fans. “I think we should make Nestor wings. He dreams of wings and eating those nasty mosquitoes. I think we can do this.
Hathor nodded and smiled. “I think that is a splendid idea. Nestor, are you ready? This may hurt a bit.”

Nestor smiled shyly. “I think having wings would be lovely. It would be worth a bit of pain to be able to eat what I need.”

Hathor quickly sat down to work. Nestor held very still and tight on to BunniHoTep’s paw. It was over very quickly even if it seemed very long to Nestor.

It was almost dark and the swallows were already flying towards the Nile. Nestor spoke up eagerly. “May we go up to the Temple roof and see if these work? I’m really hungry and I really, really want to see if I can do this.”

So they all went up to the roof and Nestor screwed up his courage and leapt off and glided perfectly. Hathor and BunniHotep clapped their hands eagerly. “Fly Nestor! Fly!”

And he flew off to find his dinner. He had found that dreams can come true if you are in the right place and the right time and you dream your heart’s dream.

So some night if you look out and see flying black mice at twilight think of Nestor and his dream of wings.

The Littlest Druid learns about Samhain

Aisling sat at the edge of the turnip field, a pile of perfect turnips piled beside her. She only needed one more. Her teacher had sent her out here to select the nine turnips that would be carved into lanterns to represent the skulls of the people who had died in the village for the procession on Samhain.

Her teacher had told her that they used to use the skulls of people who had died. She was glad they had switched to turnips. She knew death was a part of life but she didn’t want to see the skull of her friend Beith that had died this year. She missed her so much. It still hurt to lose her.

It was an honor to be picked for this job. She had to find the biggest and most perfect turnips for the lanterns. This wasn’t easy because turnips grow underground and she had to choose hers before they started harvesting the field. She was supposed to pull the turnips that called out to her and those would be the right ones and she had one left to go. She wanted the absolute most perfect one for Beith.

She closed her eyes and reached her hands out trying to feel which one in the field was calling her. She felt a tug from the left and started to walk that in that direction. She kept her hand out and cautiously walked across the field. She closed her eyes and stood still and put her hands out again. It was close by, she could tell and someone put a turnip in her hand.

Aisling’s eyes flew up and a woman smiled at her.

“I think this is the one you need for Beith.” The woman said as she handed Aisling the turnip. It was a lovely one. Beautiful clear white and just an edging of purple around the top and it was clean with no soil clinging to it.

Aisling knew she had been alone in the field but it was the gloaming time and she was well aware anything could happen in the between times and for her it usually did.

Aisling studied the woman and was trying to figure out who she was when the woman said to her, “I’m Anann. I’m the one who came for Beith. She wanted you to know she is doing well but she still loves and misses you.”

Aisling felt a lump in her throat. She swallowed trying to keep it down. She didn’t want to cry in front of the goddess. Anann reached her hand out and smoothed Aisling’s hair which really didn’t help at all.

“She’s happy and safe and not in pain anymore?” Aisling finally got out.

“She is happy and safe and not in pain anymore. She and the priestess you helped have a message for you.”

“They do?” Ailsing wasn’t sure how that worked.

“They want you to know they are always around if you need them and that someday they will be back.” Anann told her.

“I so want to carry Beith’s lantern in the procession. Do you think that they will let me?” Aisling asked beginning to relax.

I don’t think the Chief Druid would have it any other way but you know you will be the youngest in the procession?”

Aisling nodded. She really wanted to honour her friend and not do anything wrong. Samhain was too important a time and she wanted Beith to be proud of her and know she still loved her.

Anann spoke and it was if she had heard Aisling’s thoughts. “She is proud of you all the time because you don’t give up and you’re always learning. Do you know what my job is?” asked the goddess.

Aisling thought and remembered, “To comfort the dying, and to make the fields fertile and to protect the cattle.”

Anann laughed, “Good! That’s some of it. I also teach the dying about their existence after they die and help them get ready to return. You know how your teacher told you that you are supposed to rejoice when people die because they are being born into the Otherworld?”

Aisling nodded again. She still didn’t feel like rejoicing that her best friend in the whole world was gone and it made her choke up again and start being angry. How was that something to rejoice about?

Anann looked at her. “The rejoicing part is the hardest, isn’t it? You still want and miss your friend. She still wants and misses you too but part of life is learning to let go and rejoicing when someone dies hurts. There is no way out of that but you need to know that that is you hurting and she doesn’t hurt any longer. No pain and no strife, she is at peace.”

Aisling was beginning to see the pain was about her. “Am I being selfish when I miss her so much?”

“No, you’re being human and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’d worry about you a lot if you didn’t.”

“You would?”

“Aisling, you are going to be a very good druid, maybe even a great druid and the best druids have felt all emotions and know that other people feel them too. They learn that everything isn’t about them. It’s about the all, everything and everyone that exists.”

Aisling was quiet for a bit. “Is it okay if I still miss her a lot?”

“Always, it will just hurt less and you will start to have more happy memories than sad ones.”

“Really?” Ailsing asked.

“Really, and it’s even all right if you cry during the procession and the ceremony. It shows you loved someone.”

Anann hugged Aisling, “Don’t you need to take these and go help carve them into lanterns?”

Aisling grabbed her sack and started stuffing the turnips into the bag she’d brought.

“Not so fast, you don’t want to bruise them.” laughed Anann and she helped Aisling put the turnips in more carefully.

“I’ll be watching tomorrow night with the rest of your dead. Be well, Aisling, you will be fine,” and Anann walked to the end of the field and was gone.

******

The next night Aisling lined up with the others. She was last in line with her lantern. She was very proud of the carving she had done. She thought she had captured Beith’s smile just right. They started the procession and Aisling started to weep. She missed her friend but it was going to be all right. She thought she got a glimpse of Anann, Beith, and the Priestess in the crowd but it was hard to see by the light of the turnip lanterns and she couldn’t be sure. When she got to the hall where they were going to have a feast and celebrate the lives of their dead, the Chief Druid caught her eye and winked.

“What was that about?”

This post references the events in this story:http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-loss/

and this one: http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-healing/

BunniHoTep learns about Samhain

Once upon a time a ship made its way into the harbor at the top of the Nile. It was visiting this harbor for a second time. The first time was after a mighty storm had brought them but this time they weren’t going to make it all the way home for their holiday and decided to visit BunniHoTep and spend it with her.

The ship nosed itself into the dock and a red haired little girl leapt off the dock and went streaking for a small temple at the end of Temple Row. Sesi flew like an arrow launched from one of her father’s bows along the avenue. She ran into the Temple looking around her for her friend. Where was she?

BunniHoTep was in her garden because here in the south they were still growing things in the garden. Her lovely pink lotuses towered over her by the edge of the pond and the papyruses nodded their heads in the slight breeze that was passing through. A late bunch of carrots were showing their shoulders in the garden patch as well as a nice crop of beets and cabbage and some leafy lettuce was starting up in the far bed. All in all it was a lovely big cornucopia of food and she was proud of it. Into this pond of calm came whirlwind Sesi who scooped the tiny goddess up and whirled her around making BunniHoTep quiet dizzy. One does not normally take physical liberties with a goddess even a small rabbit goddess so I guess it can be forgiven that BunniHoTep was confused for a moment.

“Sesi! Put me down.” BunniHoTep yelled.

Sesi dropped the goddess gently by the lotus pool.

“What are you doing here? You’re a long way from your island home, aren’t you?”

Sesi giggled. “Yes, but we couldn’t get back home before our holiday so I asked Mathair and Athair if we could spend it with you! We’ll head home right after!” Sesi was dancing up and down with excitement. She knew BunniHoTep would love it.

BunniHoTep was looking at her quite confused. “What holiday? We don’t have a holiday today”

“No but we do and it’s our New Year and you should spend it with good friends and people you love and you saved me and I missed you so we are here to spend it with you.” Sesi smiled at BunniHoTep but BunniHoTep still didn’t understand.

“We have a festival for Bast tomorrow and I usually watch her latest batch of kittens so she can party with Sekmet but it isn’t New Year’s for us.” BunniHoTep said.

“No, we have a feast for our dead on the days that are halfway between the equinox and winter solstice. It’s called Samhain.” BunniHoTep frowned at the strange word but didn’t interrupt. “That’s our new year and it’s when the dead come visit and we set the table for them and the faeries come and we bring in the last harvest and we eat and tell stories for 3 whole days and, and, and.” The words, as usual were flooding out of Sesi.

“Stop! What’s this about your dead coming to visit? The dead don’t visit us here on the Nile, we like our dead to stay dead in their tombs where we put them so they can prepare for their re-birth.” BunniHoTep looked at the little girl a bit apprehensively by now Sesi’s mother and father and siblings had caught up with the little girl. Sesi’s father picked her up and said. “Maybe we had better explain our holiday to BunniHoTep? She might not like all our customs.” He said raising an eyebrow at his daughter. “Maybe we can talk a bit before we ask her to join us?” and he lead the way over to the bench.

“We don’t treat our dead the way you do here.” He started stopped looking at BunniHoTep for a sign he should continue. BunniHoTep motioned for him to go on. So he did.

“Our dead stay with us and advise us after they are dead. We don’t mummify our dead we cremate them and keep their heads.” BunniHoTep looked a bit upset at this so he hurried on.

“Don’t worry they are at home where they belong in their niches.” He explained. “We’ll do something different this year, normally we invite them to our feast and we tell stories and treat them as if they were still here and let them know that they are still loved and remembered.”

BunniHoTep nodded. “I can understand that. When someone dies you miss them terribly it must be comforting.” And she motioned him to continue.

“We sometimes take them around to places they remember and also to scare any of the Fair Folk away that might have bad intentions.”

“Fair Folk?” BunniHoTep inquired.

“Beings that live in our country who can be mischievous and not always have our best interests at heart and at this time of year,  can lead people away and the people may never be seen again. They can drag you to live under our hills. They like creative humans and it’s best to keep away from them. They don’t always understand the love of families for each other.”

“All right, I’d love to celebrate your holiday with you but no heads traveling around here without their bodies, in fact no spirits at all. Can you honour them without that? I don’t want to be explaining to Ma’at why there are spirits around she hasn’t judged and it would confuse Ammit terribly and I don’t even want to know what Anubis would say.” BunniHoTep shuddered. She thought explaining to Isis would be bad enough but she thought Nepthys would understand.

“So what do we need to do?” BunniHoTep asked. “Get ready for a feast and a night of story telling?”

“Exactly.” said Sesi’s dad and they went into the Temple. BunniHoTep calling for her priestesses and sending the running to harvest the vegetables and start one of their lovely soups for dinner. Other priestesses were sent to set tables in the big temple chamber. They were airing the linens and beating the carpets that all would sit on. The Temple became beehive of activity. The smells of honeycakes and rich, warm cooking smells were found throughout the Temple and BunniHoTep couldn’t take it anymore so she took them for a tour of Temple Row and to see the eternal flame they had taught her about last time that resided in Isis’ Temple.

She was also trying to think of a way for them to honour their dead with out those nasty skulls. The very thought made BunniHoTep tremble but she was starting to have an idea that might work. Sesi’s family had contributed some vegetables to the feast from the place they came from and she has seen something that gave her an idea.

They walked around a long time and BunniHoTep suggested they all take a nap before dinner in the cool chambers of the Temple. They just weren’t used to the heat of an Egyptian day.

So while her guests were napping BunniHoTep went to work. She selected what she needed from what they had brought and took it to her workroom and set about it. She tried several different ways until she found one she liked and she was very pleased with it. She just hoped they would like it too.

Soon it was nightfall and time for the feast. After the gods and goddesses had been thanked for their presence and they had given prayers of thanks for the food, BunniHoTep brought out her creation from under the low table and placed it carefully at a place setting she had made. “I know you don’t have your family here to have a meal with us but I was hoping this might do.” She unveiled her creation. The family stared and then started to cheer and laugh and BunniHoTep relaxed. This was going to work after all.

BunniHoTep had taken a vegetable they called a turnip and had hollowed it out and carefully carved a face in it that looked a lot like Sesi’s father. She had carefully placed a tiny candle and put the top back on. It sat at its place glowing with a pleasant smile like it was bestowing a blessing on all that were at the feast.

Sesi’s family thought this was an admirable solution to what had seemed a big problem. The feast went on and when the celebration was over they family headed back to their ship in the harbor. Sesi clutching the turnip carefully so that it shown their way home.

Sesi’s parents thanked BunniHoTep immensely. It was a kind gesture to a family missing their loved ones and quite frankly, a lot cheerier than having Uncle Hamish at the table.

And so the Jack O’ Lantern was born in a land far away. Bet you didn’t know it came from a bunny.

The Littlest Druid gets ready for Am-Foghar (Autumn)

Aisling sat on the stone step outside the healer’s cottage. It was late in the afternoon and for once no one was in any of the healer’s cottages. The cottage next door where they kept the herbs and the medicines was still. The Herbalist was out on the moors collecting plants and everything that could be cleaned or mixed was done at the moment. The last grain harvest would start in a few days when the moon was full.

Aisling had nothing she was supposed to be doing. Lessons would start again after the harvest and the village was quiet, something that didn’t happen very often. Aisling was thinking about harvests and the different kinds of harvests. The year would be ending soon and food being gathered for the winter. The weavers were busy weaving and knitting warm woolen and linen cloth to be made into winter clothes and yarns of different weights and colours to be used for knitting by the fire when the snows came. They had just finished dying the wools. Aisling had enjoyed creating the dyes with the herbalist. She thought it was rather magical when something that was green like yarrow could create a yellow dye or how some crushed bugs could make a rich red. She had learned a lot in this year. She had been there when babies were born and when the new lambs entered the world. She was there when her friend, the priestess had gone into the West. She learned about healing herbs and how to make teas and medicines. She learned some new divination techniques with the Ogham sticks. She’d learned to interpret the flights of birds and the patterns of clouds. She’d learned poem after poem and lots of new songs. Her friend the Raven had taught her so much about birds and things like how to go quietly and how to laugh at herself.

The harvest would start on the day of equal day and equal night that also happened to be the full moon this year so they could have the feast that followed the first day of harvest when the sun set and the moon rose.

Aisling was missing the priestess who had gone to the West. Aisling thought she had learned more from her than when she was supposed to be in class or with her mentors. She missed their cream teas. The priestess always managed to charm Cook into a plate of s’gons and some cream or freshly churned butter. The Priestess had become a favourite with everyone in the Druid village even the Chief Druid spent long hours comparing notes about their villages and how they did things. She had been a truly wise woman and when she passed over the water the last time the whole village had sung her home. The priestess had left almost as big a hole as her Anam Cara had when she had left. She knew Anann, the bean sidhe had said they were both fine and that death was a part of life but it didn’t make the harvest of loss any easier when you wanted to share a secret or what you had learned during the day. It didn’t make thinking you saw them in the distance and realizing it was someone else, any easier when you knew it wasn’t them and that you’re heart had fooled you again. She did wonder when she smelled the scent of lavender when there was no lavender anywhere nearby if someone was visiting so she had started saying hello and chatting when there was no one around to hear the conversation.

The cottage faced west and the sun was starting to set. Aisling closed her eyes and let the last warm rays of the sun bathe her in the warmth when someone sat down beside her. Aisling was almost afraid to open her eyes because so many big and strange people had sat down beside her to talk. Who was it this time? She sniffed the air and knew who it was and laughed.

“Why are you laughing, Aisling.” The Chief Druid chuckled softly because he knew why, he just had to ask.

“You know,” Aisling said, “I’ve had some pretty interesting people sit by me when I least expect it.”

The Chief Druid laughed, “So what were you thinking about so solemnly?”

“Everything I’ve learned this year. It’s almost Samhain and we’ll start over again before winter. I’ve learned so much but I’ve also lost things I didn’t expect to lose.”

“Like your Anam Cara and your friend, the priestess? You know, Latharn, thought you were something very special.”

“She did?” asked Aisling.

“She did, and I miss her too.” Said the Chief Druid. “She taught me a lot too.”

Aisling looked at the Chief Druid in astonishment. “She did. She taught me to face death with a full heart. She taught me to say when people mean something to them. She taught me to count my blessings.”

“I thought you knew all those things” Aisling looked at the Chief Druid with big eyes.

“I knew them but I didn’t KNOW them. Does that make sense?” Aisling thought about it and nodded her head.

“I think so.” Aisling said slowly.

“Latharn thought that someday you will be a great druid because you have an open heart and an open mind and because you love so completely.”

Aisling sat in stunned silence. Latharn had really thought that about her!

“She thought I should start teaching you some things that the others in your class aren’t ready for yet.”

Aisling was looking at the Chief Druid like an owlet that had been woken up suddenly. “Wwwhhyyy? Did she want you to do that?”

“Well, no one else your age or even among the other druids have had conversations with Brighid or Lugh or the Green Man or any of the others that have befriended you since you’ve been here.” Aisling was just staring.

“Think that would be a good thing to start after Samhain” asked the Druid in a teasing voice.

“Really? You want to teach just me? No one else?”

“Just you and maybe some of your friends will help sometimes.” He smiled to himself. This was going to be an interesting winter.

“I’ll let you digest that for awhile. I’ll see you at ritual. Would you recite a poem at ritual about what you are thankful for this year?”

Aisling nodded. She didn’t feel able to speak yet. She looked to the West just as the sun was setting over the far hills. She felt like someone far away had just smiled at her and maybe they had.

Magic and stories in Photos Part 4

I’m having fun so I’m going to keep going for awhile.

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Sometimes even Snowy Egrets have bad hair days. A few months before my brother died we went up to visit him in Mountain View and as my family all have penchants for wandering around in the shrubberies, he and his partner took us to Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It would be the last day we spent as a family.

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This was before the wind got to his topknot.

My sister hates this picture of she and my brother laughing. This was in April or May and he would be dead in July. It’s a window into that period that he was taken from us. Chemo and surgery had made him balloon up but he was still my beloved little brother. He could take himself too seriously and he was the one nonpunner in a family that ran on puns. So that day was a gift. The next time we would got up we were supposed to be there for his next surgery but instead we flew up for his funeral. He died of multiform gliomablastoma. A particularly nasty form of brain cancer. It came back after 15 years in remission.

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My sister’s totem is the dragonfly and I just love them and this was out at Sepulveda one afternoon when I was testing my patience. I caught it with my point and shoot Sony with it’s Zeiss lens. Patience and not breathing sometimes gets you amazing things.

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Sunset at Lake Balboa. I was pissed at my bitch of a boss at the time and needed time to decompress before I went home. The White Pelicans are only there in January so it was an early sunset. It gave me much joy and still does.

Magic and stories in photos – Part 2

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I took this the morning Laura made us Druids. It would be the last time the Grove was able to have ritual with Laura and that Mary could walk to. We were at the Sepulveda Wildlife Sanctuary almost at dawn on a fairly chilly January morning. The side of the refuge that was almost never open was open that day and it was an open invitation to journey into the January mist accompanied by Laura’s and the Grove’s favourite bird, the Great Blue Heron who watched us during the whole ceremony from a nearby tree limb.

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This was taken a Lake Balboa on the opposite side of the street from the refuge. The others had gone and I decided to walk around the lake alone. I’m terrified of swans since getting bit badly many years ago when I was three or four and Dad took me to Forest Lawn because he wanted to visit his aunt and uncle and he decided to let me feed the swans there. I have never before or since seen swans at either the refuge or on the lake but there they were a momma and her cygnets. Ever since I got bit, swans show up when I’m supposed to face a fear. Usually someone with give me a gift of one out of the blue, They rarely show up physically but there they were that morning and I got close enough to take these. The Goddess has a sense of humour and timing, make me a Druid and shove me at something that frightens me, Gee thanks Mom!

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I love Descanso Gardens and my wonderful cohort Nancy volunteers there and she also volunteered to take to my MRI when they were trying to figure out what my tumour was doing before the surgery because I wasn’t allowed to drive myself because they were going to give me joy juice and because this was about my 10th or 11th MRI and I hate them.

Nancy offered to let me go for a short trip to Descanso before the MRI and this is the back of the lake area they just redid to allow people access. It used to be walled off. It helped so much to have that walk. Nature always makes things better for me. It was a wonderful gift.

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This is a bat I rescued from small children that were frightening it while pretending to be frightened of this little guy. This was at our camp reunion last year and I got to use my Naturalist skills and teach them something. They were so close he couldn’t echolocate, So I made them back up and talked to them about why he couldn’t get away until they moved. That he was more worried about them than the other way around since it was broad daylight and he was in diffculty under the eaves of the cabin. The minute I got the kids far enough away he was off into the woods. And I was answering a ton of the kids questions. It was a fun moment.

 

 

 

Magic and stories in photos

Photographs are stories in light and air. Every photo has a story, some you will never know, some you may not want to know but they all have tales to tell. So I thought I’d tell some visual tales.

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I used to enter a lot of my jewelry that I made in the LA County Fair. I won ribbons on just about everything I ever entered and this gave me my only blue ribbon. I got red/second and white/ thirds and a bunch of pink fourths. I’m still proud of it.

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This is my first camera and the start of my joining the family obsession with picture taking. I think I was 6 or 7 when  I got it and it went with me every where and hardly still has a scratch on it. It lives with my Nikon FM who no longer works in the tiny hope chest my Great Uncle Winn made my cousin and I one Christmas where my treasures live.

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This is a plant I always dreamed of seeing. It was in my first wildflower field guide by Golden Books. I had a full collection of their field guides by the time I was 5 and was allowed to lecture grownups for some reason on what they contained. I used to stare at the picture for hours because I thought it was so cool. It doesn’t grow in Southern California so I never thought I would see one. The first time I went up to see Mary and Denise in Oregon, Denise and I went to the Leach Botanical Gardens for a few hours as it was already too hard for Mary and her purple chariot to move around. This was the first plant I saw getting out of the car and I’m sure Denise thought I was nuts. It was just a wildflower that was on the driveway but for me it was a long time dream to see one and it was just as pretty as I hoped.

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This was a bit of serendipity at the Self Realization Fellowship Shrine in Palos Verdes. A mushroom in a mini Stonehenge lintel surrounded by shamrocks. You just know there is a faery close by.