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devotions: a moderate soul

Tree of Life by Once Upon a Paper of New York, NY, USA

The mark of a moderate man 
 is freedom from his own ideas.
 Tolerant like the sky,
 all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.

~ tao te ching

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birds, bunnies and ...... oh my!

I woke up this morning, very early, and realized it's been ages since I've taken time to walk in nature. And too long since I've posted about a hike. I grabbed my camera and water and drove over to Garden of the Gods (a well known destination for tourists) which is about ten miles west, give or take. The sun was just coming up, which is why the rocks are such a vibrant orange in the photos below. These photos have very little retouching. Just a bit of fine tuning for sharpness. The colors are as I saw them, or the camera I should say :-)

East Entrance to Garden of the Gods with the sun rise turning the rocks orange.

Early sunrise. One of the many paved paths in the park

It felt so good to smell the pine trees after a short rainfall last night. The birds were busy chattering and chipmunks scampered around doing whatever they do. I found bunnies sitting here and there completely oblivious to me.

Wild bunny. He doesn't look as cuddly as the garden variety

Western Scrub Jay

The Western Scrub Jay is much more common here than it's counterpart, the Eastern Blue Jay. If they happen to be in the same area, there may be some territorial issues to be worked out.

Along the path I've just missed a deer that vanished in the scrub. I'd love a photo, so I decided to wait a bit to see if he might come back. While standing there, I turn around to take this shot of the rocks. (below) The sun has risen a bit higher by this time.  And yes, the sky is really that blue!

One of the many rock formations in Garden of the Gods

As soon as I turn back around I can hear rustling in the scrub (or bushes) and I'm thinking my waiting has paid off. I hadn't been standing there very long. I raise the camera, ready for a shot, expecting to see a cute deer or two, when my breath stops as a bear comes out of the brush, slowly lumbering down the trail aside of me. After my initial shock, not to mention frozen in place, the bear turns his head and sees me. Click goes my camera.

The deer I was waiting for!

Now I'm scared. I have encountered bears twice before, but in my own yard where I was able to step back into the relative safety of my home. I realize the only thing separating me from the bear is the dirt and a few pieces of lumber, as in the photo. And I'm alone. I couldn't remember the "bear rules" ... do I stay and not move, or run, or do I wave my hands to act like I'm the bigger creature.

Well, one doesn't move, but stands their ground. At the time I just wanted to leave as soon as possible. I stopped looking at him directly and slowly walked back down the path and as soon as I felt it was okay, I ran.

My walk was cut short, as I didn't feel comfortable continuing. I hadn't seen many people during my walk, so I headed for the car and took one last picture of the rocks on my way out of the park.

Balanced Rock. Tourists usually swarm this area for photos of family standing on the top.

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spinach and tofu quiche: for the meatless monday crowd

Spinach and Tofu Quiche
I'm not a huge fan of tofu, but this is one dish I've stuck by for many years. Even my kids enjoyed it, though they didn't know they were eating tofu! I confessed years later.

I've had this recipe for so long I don't remember where I found it. It's been altered over the years to the current version. What's great about this dish is the flexibility to use cheeses you may have on hand, or even replace the spinach with chopped broccoli or chard. For the crust I've used a recipe from "The Joy of Cooking" and replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I've also used shortening that does not have hydrogenated oils. You may want to prep the tofu and spinach beforehand.


Mix in a large bowl:

4 T. cornstarch
1 C. cold water

Blend in a blender:

2 eggs
1 C. lowfat cottage cheese
1/3 C. feta cheese
1 box soft tofu-DRAINED WELL 

I wrap the tofu (out of the package) in paper towels and set a large can on top to help squeeze the water out. After blending, add this mix to the cornstarch bowl, and fold in the following:

1 10 ounce box of frozen spinach, cooked and drained well, or use fresh
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese,or a blend of jack, etc
1 small onion, chopped
Dash of nutmeg and black pepper

Pour into an unbaked pie shell. If you are using a small pie shell, this filling may stretch to TWO shells. It does not rise during baking. Bake about 45 minutes to one hour. Done when toothpick comes out clean and the top is slightly brown around edges. Don't over-bake, it may dry out.

Nice sides might be roasted carrots and green salad. Freezes well too. Enjoy :-)


devotions: make me a flower

Rose and Garden abstract painting by Paulina of Warsaw, Poland

 Deliver me from darkness,

make me a brilliant light;

free me from unhappiness,

make me a flower of the rose garden...

Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha

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devotions: how great is love?

Healing Heart by Paula M. of New Mexico, USA

Love is greater
than peace,
for peace is founded
upon love.

 Baha'i Writings

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short story: a lesson in listening, acting and confirmation

Homeless Vietnam Vet painting by jujuru of Pennsylvania, USA

 Last week I listened to a speech by a homeless man. He was asking for acknowledgment and respect from the general public. To look him in the eye as you walk by, smile, or take a moment and stop to ask how he is doing.

Yesterday as I waited for the light to change near a grocery store, I spied a sign at the edge of the road that read "Need a room for pregnant wife and baby."  The young man holding the sign could have been my son's age and the baby my grandchild.

I motioned for him to come closer as I rolled my car window down. I asked for his story. He hadn't been out of the army long and was laid off from a local company (I knew the company well). He applied everywhere he possibly could for work. Their second baby on the way was not planned. As he tells his story a smile lights up his face, with eyes that are warm and grateful.

I wasn't able to help much, but gave him what cash I had and a few encouraging words as we parted. He thanked me for asking about him and his family and for my small donation.

What I came away with from that short meeting surprised me greatly. My son was also in the army and struggled when he came home. The company that laid this man off was also the employer of a family member. And I know unplanned pregnancies can happen so easily.

That stranger on the street is my brother, my dad, my son....or me.

This morning I opened a book of daily spiritual readings, to July 6th, yesterday, and this is an excerpt of what was written:

"...withhold not from the poor the gifts which the grace of God hath bestowed upon you."

 This small lesson unfolded in a personal way and I felt compelled to share how one moment of listening lead to acting, learning and confirmation.

And I wish I had a room to give away.


etsy treasury: ffaw sunshine and butterflies

This collection brings back childhood memories of a yellow bedroom with curtains and matching bedspread scattered with dainty yellow roses, and a summer breeze gently blowing through the windows. One of my favorite past times outside was to see how many different fuzzy caterpillars I could find. I often wondered what kind of butterfly it would grow up to be. My hand stamped "butterfly kisses" necklace is included. Thanks, JC! 

'Goodbye June Gloom' by jcstrong

Hello sunshine and butterflies. AWE Team and the artists and artisans of Etsy, happy First Friday Art Walk everyone....

















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