Tag Archives: Nature

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Fathers Day, edition)

These guys have just jumped out of their little purple martin bird house a few feet away for the first time, learning how to fly, with purple martin mama anxiously protecting them from the neighborhood around the rectory which gathered to see the sight. I mean, these don’t look like purple martin kids, do they? I mean, the beak is hooked… Is that right? And the “babies” are already twice as big as the mama before they even know how to fly. What’s going on here?

Anyway, my first thought was “Flowers for the Immaculate Conception,” which I always have on the front burner. I’m thinking that that’s not a bad thing. Oh, and here’s another, who keeps looking at how far down the ground is…

Last night after the Vigil Mass the Latinos had a Fathers Day party, complete with singing and cake:

On Mothers Day the Latinos give all the ladies roses after Mass in the social hall with another party, of course. I said last night that the Fathers should get something as well. Many suggestions were made but all immediately dismissed as it was said that it just doesn’t work that way. But to my my way of thinking, it’s a gift to any Father to be able to give a gift on Fathers Day. So, a whole heap of flowers for you, Mary. I suppose the birds will fly away, having learned how to fly. But that’s as it should be.

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Satan’s camouflage: humility

Insignificant, unassuming, unnoticed, blending in, not because he’s humble, but because he’s the ultimate “gray man”, the one who’s a fly on the wall while actually being the elephant in the room, the most clever of all creatures. What to do with such insidious deceit?

  • If we’re trusting in ourselves, you know, so that with our own strength we do not have we go about trying really hard to be insignificant, unassuming, unnoticed, just blending in as one to be congratulated for being so humble, then, with such mind games, imitating Satan, the ol’ monkey see monkey do, we will fall.
  • If, instead, we trust in our Lord Jesus, that He is our Savior, that he doesn’t give us strength but rather draws us to be united to His strength – that is, His love, His truth, and therefore this being a matter of actual humility in action, that is, thanksgiving – then the insidious deceit of Satan’s fake humility is easily seen for what it is, terribly arrogant, hateful without limit. And we remain in awe before the majestic love of Jesus for us, He bearing the wounds of having faced the entirety of Satan’s arrogance and hate for us. Irony Incarnate, the Divine Son of his good mom, kills off our idiocy; He says: I am a serpent, a worm, a maggot and not man at all (see Psalm 22:7).

The serpent in the picture, only some inches long, was seen yesterday in the gravel just outside the church.

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Getting reprimanded by a professional

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“Look! A Squirrel!” Yes, the squirrels in these parts commonly lack color, so much so that there is a white squirrel festival complete with the soup kitchen guy wearing a white squirrel outfit put together by the neighbor to the hermitage.

On the “Day Off” I spent some time in town at a friend’s house, parking in the shade of a massive tree. Before going in, I sat in the car with the windows down for a few minutes checking emails and such. This girl didn’t like it one bit, parking herself on the tree just a few feet above me, scolding me continuously for minutes on end without a break. I thought I had better just go in so that she could get back to her young squirrels.

We fallen human beings thrive on being reprimanded when this is done for a good reason, is reasonably carried out, is consistent, predictable. And we learn. And we recognize that as a good thing. That’s when it’s all reasonable. But it needs to be met with reason on our part as well, a bit of humility. The Lord has given us commandments. As He said, if we love Him, we will keep those commandments of love of God and love of neighbor.

The reprimands for our lack, we have to know, will be as continuous as a mama squirrel. Our guardian angels will make sure of that. Count on it. Don’t discount it. When it happens, don’t get frustrated, upset. It’s best to thank our guardian angels for doing their job and helping us get to heaven.

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Dam Road! It’s for the birds!

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It’s been raining. The creek is flooding over the road out front of the rectory, with the road acting like a dam. Water is up to the house. The birds don’t care. There are three here:

  • A purple finch
  • A sparrow (Did you know you’re worth more than a whole flock of sparrows?)
  • Some sort of black bird. I have no idea what it is…

Meanwhile, Nebraska is still mourning, still suffering from its worst flood ever, with 76 out of 93 counties declared disaster zones. Remember this picture?

Nebraska flooding March 2019

Hail Mary

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Holy Communion: receiving on the tongue vs grabbing with the hand

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Tiny little feathered friends seen on the Day Off. Very humble, that. Merely receiving. Not grabbing. What does the Lord say to us all in Psalm 81:11?

“Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.”

Also, the Tree of Life, i.e., the Tree of the Living Ones, comes to mind. Adam may receive the fruit of the Tree, the Eucharist from the Cross, but Adam may not reach out his hand and grab the fruit of the Tree, pretending that in that way he will live forever, that is, because he reached out his hand as if he’s saving himself. No. But he may receive if he is receptive.

Adoration this past Sunday at 6:00 AM at Holy Redeemer:

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Mr and Mrs Elk. Finally, a sighting.

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This is toward the end of the Smoky Mountain Expressway near my parish, last evening, on the infamous “Day Off.” This is the first time since early 2011 to see any Elk. Big creatures! You can tell they are Elk and not Caribou since Mrs Elk does not have a rack:

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To rejoice in God’s good creation is good. Mind you, this is not some nothingness, irrelevant, a distraction, forgetful of the worst torture and death, to be condemned as tree-hugging and a sacrifice to the gods and goddesses of new age hooey. No.

Behold, the praises of the three young men thrown alive into the fiery furnace but saved by the Lord:

  • “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
  • Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.
  • Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
  • Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
  • Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever.
  • Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • You heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Dew and rain, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Frost and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Ice and snow, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Nights and days, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Light and darkness, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Mountains and hills, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • You springs, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Seas and rivers, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • You sons of men, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • O Israel, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
  • Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. For he has delivered us from the nether world, and saved us from the power of death; He has freed us from the raging flame and delivered us from the fire.
  • Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.
  • Bless the God of gods, all you who fear the Lord; praise him and give him thanks, because his mercy endures forever.”

 

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“Don’t mess with mother” – analogy

Sorry, I couldn’t help but make the analogy…

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Of course, Mary’s ferocity is to get us to go to Confession and go to heaven.

Anecdote time – and this does NOT break the Seal of Confession!

When I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes and hearing zillions of Confessions of the 12,000,000 pilgrims that 150th anniversary jubilee year in the “Confessions Chapel,” the last penitent left the confessional leaving the door open. Another pilgrim appeared and, before coming in, declared before God and everyone else in ear shot (really a lot of people as it was jammed) that he didn’t know what he was doing there, that he didn’t want to be there, that he hated this, but it was just that after some moments in the grotto he felt compelled to come into the Confessions Chapel, and there he was, hating the whole thing, surely with his guardian angel smacking him down hard. And then he came in, closed the door, and…

That’s how our Lady works. Don’t mess with Jesus’ good mom. She’ll get you every time.

P.S. I have not ever, not now, nor will I ever, as far as I know, ever own an iPhone.

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The King of Fishers! Jesus to Peter…

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My last sightings of the majestic Kingfisher were back in Minnesota at “The Pond.” The King has a magnificent crest reminiscent of a crown. You can’t see it in the picture above as his head is turned entirely sideways in the opposite direction as he rearranges the swallowing in one gulp of a fish about as long as he is. This is just some few feet outside the window of the rectory. He’s over the creek next to the rectory. There are plenty of minnows and small fish. Here’s what they otherwise look like:

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I remember the ones in Minnesota had blue markings and perhaps the familiar rust-belt. And they were much bigger, more like the size of crows, much bigger than Blue Jays.

Meanwhile, Father CC in the diocese here texted me about the reading of the Passion for Palm Sunday. As is his want, he pointed out some worthy to be noticed incisive irony on the part of Jesus over against Simon Peter:

“Jesus calls him Simon when speaking of his strength in confirming the brethren, but Peter (the Rock) when speaking of his weakness in denying Him.”

Ha ha ha. And then: Yikes!

Pray for Pope Francis, that he may confirm the brethren and not deny our Lord.

Pray for Pope Francis that he might follow our King, Jesus and be a fisher of men.

Hail Mary…

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Running over others on purpose

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This is the third maxed out size wise momma snapper turtle that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks looking to find a place to lay her eggs crossing the road and ending up getting run over on purpose. I say that because people would have had to swerve to have their tires hit the ones I saw. And I did see one crossing the road in the middle of a lane and the knucklehead did just that, swerved so as to hit it with a tire. I hate that.

This ol’ gal didn’t look too badly damaged. I figured with a little help she could at least crawl to a place to lay her eggs and then die of an infection some weeks later. I stopped, as did a number of other vehicles on the side of the road, and we all got her safely into the ditch and crawling away. Huge turtle.

I’ve seen the same thing with Mountain rattlers, with the knuckleheads first running the snake over, then stopping and cutting the head and the rattler off. People can be so mean.

Stats have it that people who are mean to animals like this do exactly the same thing to the human beings around them, hitting them, smacking them down, yes, running them over on purpose. And they don’t have to start with animals, just go right to being violent with human beings.

Oh. I forgot. I was so busy being sanctimonious that I didn’t want to notice that my sins did that to Jesus. Sorry, dear Lord.

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The Nebraska Flood

Nebraska flooding March 2019

From a reader:

“I thought you would be interested in what caused a lot of the damage during the flooding. This is my brother in law […]. The ice chunk he is leaning on is actually made up of several sheets of river ice that were broken loose from the edges of the river then they refroze together. By the way this is a smaller one.

“MANY bridges gone. Parts of roads gone. Homes gone. Whole herds of cattle gone. A man and his house, barn, bait shop, and saloon business gone. Spring calves dead or gone.

“One man was crossing a bridge to rescue his brother when the bridge washed out taking his 8430 John Deere tractor and him away. They say his body washed up right where he lived on the river.

“We talked to […] and […]. 2/3 of the 24,000 residents of Norfolk we evacuated but they did not evacuate. The evacuation line was at the end of their street. We talked to […]’s brother […] and life is getting back to normal in our little town of Stuart.

“They took a backhoe and cut two 6 foot wide trenches right through the road to let some of the water out of town. I guess a lot of folks are without power because some of the power lines crossed the river. Several little towns have lost their town wells because now they are contaminated.”

Hail Mary…

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Ultra Super Wolf Blood Moon (twice)

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Sorry, I guess the phone camera moved slightly and got a double digital exposure while trying to collect more light.

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Werewolves and lunatics… a commonality among diverse and disparate cultures geographically and across the millennia. Interesting, that. I recall also that The Woman clothed with the sun stands upon the moon. Haha.

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Toxic-gas clouds zipping over WNC from Oak Ridge research corridor?

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It’s fun to have a good imagination. Let’s play “What if?”

These pictures were taken late afternoon 13 December 2018. Moving relatively quickly. Note, above, how the other surrounding, higher clouds, move away from the darker clouds in a circular fashion, pushed away by the darker clouds below. That‘s an indicator that something serious is amiss. The darker clouds aren’t dropping, but rather moving over the terrain. I’m guessing that the length of this event, from nearer to farther away, just of the darker stuff, is about a mile all told. Give it a couple of miles for the spreading of the upper clouds. Give it more for whatever effect on the ground. Remember, these are moving relatively quickly. I was really fumbling to get my camera in traffic as I didn’t want to just let them fly by. They are roiling and boiling but staying together.

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At first glance I thought these were clouds of trillions of starlings. If you’ve ever seen the shows they put on – common in Rome, Italy – you would know what I mean. But these didn’t have the ever changing shapes of starling acrobatics. You’ll notice that there seems to be a more concentrated opaque center of the “clouds” with a weird semi-transparent “net” – if you will – draped over the opaqueness. But, let’s look closer:

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The outer “net” is not liquid, like rain, as it defies gravity, and equally surrounds the center both below and above, all around, like roiling boiling fumes, not H20 based, with H20 opaqueness, but more like gasoline fumes that roil and boil and are transparent, providing a more blotchy appearance. What you’re looking at is not the wispiness of H20 clouds, but the the messiness of roiling boiling fumes. Let’s tweak the raw picture a bit to make it darker:

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This is just 50 miles as-the-toxic-cloud-flies from Oak Ridge, TN, with all of their testing sites. These were coming from exactly that direction. This defies further description. By the time I got home, just a stone’s throw away, these darker clouds had already raced away.

That’s the entertainment of imagination for the day. I’m sure there’s a name for such meteorological formations for both upper lighter and lower darker clouds, something like “downburst” or some such ill fitted name. There was no down and no burst. All was at a dead calm. I’m sure there’s a reason why the wispiness did not have H20 opaqueness but was transparent and not at all wispy, but rather roiling and boiling. I’m sure there’s a reason why they were flying relatively quickly.

It’s just that I’ve never seen anything like this in clouds since I was born. Anyway, if these were toxic and just a test, there’s no reason to question it. After all, there’s no one important who lives in these remote mountains, right? //off sarcasm

Again, just my fun imagination.

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Counterintel Vultures vs Crux Kryptos

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The locals call these guys turkey buzzards, which buzz around big as wild turkeys. I just call them vultures. I’ve seen as many as seventy in a “kettle” (as if swirling in a kettle up in the sky) above an active landfill that handles household garbage. But in the midst of the back forest ridges near the hermitage on any day off  I might see just a few on the road, like bandits. They’ve been here at the exact same spot on the gravel one-lane hermitage mountain road near the waterfall for the seven or eight years I’ve been driving this road, never with road kill, just owning the place. They’ll move just off the road for a vehicle that dares approach them. I’ve wondered what they would do if I were walking alone on the road and acted with timidity, skittish, hesitant, backing up a step, and then another. What I don’t have to wonder about is that acting with confidence is 99% of any success in dealing with any would-be adverse encounter, and can pretty much control any outcome. Bravely walk up to these monsters and they’ll run away.

Dealing with the dark side is one thing. Quite another is dealing with human beings who are not perceptive to mind tricks, but are instead wasted on drugs, especially the drug of, say, counterintel, and it is a drug, with all the same effects, unless… And, by the way, we’re all lost to mind games on every level of our lives, unless… unless we have a constant which cuts through all mind games, that which is more powerful than mind games, more powerful than anything we hold dear in this world, including life here. That Constant is the Cross. Love, like Wisdom, cuts through idiocy. The world spins about while the Cross remains a constant.

Solving Kryptos – Part 4 – Coriolis effect – Crux stat dum volvitur orbis

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Don’t be lost to a palimpsestic faith. Truth is Love is God, ever ancient, ever new, always the same, always full of Life. Our thinking that we can edit Truth, edit Love, edit Life is where all our shattered ways bring darkness. In our stupidity, we think that spreadsheeting analysis of stats based on fallen human nature takes account of all reality and is the key to unlocking mysteries. Pffft. Soooo NOT. When it comes to Truth who is Love who is Life, so that we walk with Truth, with Love, with Life, then it’s no longer an iffy confidence manipulating success 99% of the time, then there is success 100% of the time, with success not being measured in this world, but by being drawn into eternal life.

There’s no greater joy before the angels of heaven than when…

Didn’t expect that, did you?

;-)

 

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (If these were chickens edition)

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These were seen near the hermitage on the last kind-of-day-off. (I haven’t been able to target practice for the last number of weeks, so any day-off isn’t really a day-off.)

If this is a dead red oak tree (hard to tell because the mushrooms are so thick) there’s a good chance that these are little baby Laetiporus sulphureus, otherwise known as Chicken of the Woods shelf mushrooms. “Chicken” because, just like rattle snakes, they taste like chicken. They can get big (from Wikipedia:).

chicken of the woods

Each shelf is like a chicken breast, prepared just the same way. Delicious. I used to fry these up on the wood stove in the hermitage.

O.K. These are not quite “flowers” if you have to be technical about it. But, if these were Chicken of the Woods and I was a kid with a chainsaw, I would cut the tree so that it wouldn’t quite fall all the way down. I’d get the bed of the truck near to one end and tie up the log with a chain to the back of the truck so that when the rest of it fell it wouldn’t hit the ground except for just the far end. Then I would drag it back to the house and prop it up on one end with some other logs, and then watch the proliferation of chickens, as bright as any flowers could ever be.

Then, when the chickens are all eaten up, the log is still great for firewood if you chop it up right away. Otherwise the roots of the mushrooms will rot the wood fast.

I don’t think Jesus’ good mom would object to such a monstrosity in her garden. It might even put a bit of a smile on her face. Sometimes a little imagination, a little thinking outside the box goes a long way.

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Of snakes and souvenirs

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There is a couple of miles high up in the mountains in which it is as likely as not to see a Timber Rattler, alive or dead, on the curvy simple road that is made of loose gravel sprayed with oil.

Locals have a penchant for running over snakes and turtles and anything else they can steer into perhaps without wrecking their vehicles in order to do so. As often as not, if it is a snake, especially a rattler, they’ll cut the head off, and the rattle, for souvenirs.

Jesus has His own souvenirs after His own encounter with the snake mentioned in Genesis 3:15. Jesus’ souvenirs are in the form of five wounds in hands and feet and in His side, His Heart. But Jesus otherwise doesn’t parade around a snake head or tail.

What a strange lot we are. But God loved the world so much that…

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Cicada calls caption call

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A cicada just out of his cocoon, wings still unfolding, a first look at the world after been one and seventeen years (depending: I’m no entomologist), wondering what sort of creature is holding him up, trying to take in the scene with ultra super wide scope eye pods. What could he possibly be thinking? I guess that’s a caption call… I’m guessing he’s saying “Hello!” since he’s waving in a friendly manner with his right front… claw.

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The fool says in his heart… [but then…]

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I was having a chat about the ways of God with the neighbor to the hermitage on the day off when of a sudden a critical incident unfolded before us with a battle falling from the tree down to our feet all in a wrestling agonizing roiling heap. “Crunch-crunch.” The jaws of the Great American Hornet could be heard snapping off wings and legs. One recalls the psalmist mocking the arrogant in the midst of times of continuous critical incidents:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on God.

But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
where there was nothing to dread.

God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
you put them to shame, for God despised them.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

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Weird, the things you might see…

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The cloud above would be over Andrews on the far side of the mountains. Below shows the very same spot with what’s happening below the clouds with a downpour right over Andrews. Yikes! I love nature.

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Joyce Kilmer’s Trees Sheet Music 1922

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Bonus: Joyce Kilmer Centennial Memorial 30 July 2018 at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: Listen up, CIA! Dedicatio par aevum Heroic history: Joyce Kilmer Centennial

 

 

 

 

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Lost in paradise

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The directions I received to go do a house blessings were: “You know, we’re up 143, like, you know, Snow Bird.” I will find it. Meanwhile, on my first attempt, going the length of 143 and Snow Bird, I stopped at this waterfall to share with you some of the screamingly beautiful beauty of my parish. If you follow the water up the picture you’ll come almost to the top of the ridge. I don’t mind getting lost in paradise. It’s an occasion to sing:

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.

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