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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

After yesterday’s weekend coffee share post and thinking about my Aunt Joy, my memories started flooding my mind. Just a little bit ago, totally by accident, I came across an old post that brought me a huge smile. So this is a repost of a memoir piece I posted in 2008. I hope you smile with me.

One year on Easter, when I was about eight years old, we went to my Aunt Joy and Uncle Joe’s house for a barbecue in the mid-afternoon.  As we did every year, we took our Easter baskets with us wherever we went, including to their house.  After a while, my aunt told us we should put our baskets in her bedroom so we could play without having to worry about our baskets and all of our stuff falling out.  She took them to her bedroom for us.

Later, we asked our mom if we could have a candy from our baskets and she said we could.  We were good.  We knew from experience that one candy meant ONE candy so we took only one.  I remember thinking that our baskets weren’t as full as they should be but I just took my one candy and went outside, as did my sisters.

We played and we ate and instead of having cake for dessert, we asked if we could have a candy from our baskets and once again, we were told we could.  When we went to my aunt’s room to get our candy, most of our candy was gone.  We hadn’t taken it.  We looked to see if it had fallen out but there was no sign of our candy.  When we went back outside, we told our mom and she said we had probably taken more than one when we were supposed to take only one.  We hadn’t.

Later, when it was time to leave for home, there were no candies left in our baskets.  We hadn’t been inside the house in a long time and there had been candy left in our baskets then.  No one had gone inside, except my aunt.  My mom investigated.  She believed us but she couldn’t very well say my Aunt Joy had taken it.   My mom went outside and told my father that we had eaten all our candy.  My father got mad at us and then my aunt spoke up and said she had taken some of our candy because we had so much.  She liked candy, she said, and she didn’t get any because there were no kids in her house so she had taken “one or two” of our candies from each basket.  There were four of us girls there and all the candy was gone from all of our baskets!  Yup, she had taken “one or two”!

I remind Aunt Joy from time to time and we laugh about it.  When I go to her house for Easter, I take her a basket of her very own candy and we laugh!  I’m going to be near her house today so I’m thinking of putting some of the left over candy in a little basket for her and dropping them off.  I hope she’s there so I can laugh with her!  Who said Easter candy is only for kids?!

This is part of #TheWeeklySmile blog linkup hosted by Trent. Check out his post and write one of your own if so inclined!

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If we were having coffee, I would be out of sorts and once we got settled and comfy, I would probably start telling you about my favorite aunt, Joy.

When I was little, around four, my uncle who lived with us, got a new girlfriend that lived down the street from us. He met her when my mom sent him to Maio’s Market, on the corner, for a dinner ingredient. When we walked by the house where Joy lived, she was outside. That was the beginning of a year sixty year marriage. He brought her to the house to meet us and to meet my mom. My mom was ten years older than my uncle and had practically raised him as she cared for him when my grandmother was at work. So she was very protective of her little brother. Aunt Joy and my mom didn’t get along at first and even once they came to appreciate each other and truly care for one another, there were some rough times, mostly due to “boundaries” perceived and real.

I felt a special bond with her, even in the early days. My middle name is Joy and when I found out that her real name was not Joy, I asked her why she used that as her name. She answered that she hated her given name, Jovita. And one day, while washing dishes as part of her chores, she looked at the bottle of dish washing liquid and decided she would from then on be called Joy, like the soap.

I really liked Aunt Joy. I would go visit her, even before they were married. And I kind of shadowed her when she came to visit my uncle. Later, she took very good care of us, driving across town when my mother was in the hospital and I was having a lot of pain. She helped me and brought medicine and stayed until I felt better and my brothers were home from school.

When I went to college and my parents moved from San Jose in California to Orange County, I spent a lot of time with my aunt. They lived about a half hour from Palo Alto where I attended college. I spent weekends with them and holidays. That’s when she taught me one of the most important things in my life. Volunteering. I went along with her to deliver cupcakes or cookies to my cousins’ classrooms for their parties. I learned about Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts and going on field trips with the kids’ classes. I went along with her to help at church craft fairs and other fundraisers. I asked her once why she did all of that. My mom hadn’t done any of that so it seemed different to me. She explained that we always have a duty to help out whenever we can, especially with schools and youth groups and churches because they don’t have a lot of money or a lot of help. That stayed with me and when I became a mom, I started volunteering as soon as my kids got to pre-school. I never stopped. Class mom, field trip chaperone, den mother for Cub Scouts, troop leader for Girl Scouts. Fundraising chair at the elementary school. PTA president. Foundation President. I still volunteer (well not since the pandemic shut everything and everyone down last March) at the grandkids’ schools.

She taught me so much. She was like a second mom. I’ve always thought of her as one of the five most influential people in my life.

She died yesterday.

I am deeply saddened. I cannot be there to honor her or memorialize her as I am very high risk and not vaccinated yet. It would be too big of a risk. And then there is the money involved. So I can’t. Instead, I will share with others, as I’ve shared here with you. I’ll continue to sip my tea and think about her and just talk to her spirit.

For more #weekendcoffeeshare posts, please visit Natalie the Explorer and, if you are so inclined, please write your own coffee share post and link up here.

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I’ve written about parts of this previously. Yesterday, I was asked to think of the most magical, romantic summer and this is what popped into my mind. So, with a failing memory, this is how I remember that magical summer.

 

High school. Sophomore year. That was the best year I remember.  It was mostly because of Him. He was a year older but we shared a couple of classes and because all the teachers seated us in alphabetical order, I was always right behind him. He was cute. He had that boyish look and his sense of humor oozed. His smile was sweet, innocent, yet mischievous, and I loved it. We didn’t see each other outside of classes but there was an attraction; a chemistry that couldn’t be denied. He always joked with me or paid me compliments as we got to our seats. Mine was the last seat in the first row in Geometry. One day, as we were passing our homework forward, he grabbed my hand instead of my paper and he didn’t let go right away. He just hung on. The person in front of him had to turn around and grab our work from him. That broke the hold but then every chance he got, he would grab my hand and not let go. It was silly and it was kind of nice to have the attention. Well, it was more than kind of nice. Then one day, while the teacher was at the front of the class and students were being called on to demonstrate different geometry solutions, he put his hand back, reaching for my hand but he ended up grabbing my pencil. It was the only pencil I had and I really wanted to follow along with the demonstration at the front of the class. Besides, I wasn’t super good in geometry so I needed to pay attention and I really didn’t like getting into trouble and I was afraid I would. I quietly asked him to give me my pencil and he handed it back over his shoulder. I reached for it but he wouldn’t let it go. He just held on to it. Then as I nudged it away from him, he grabbed a hold of it again and the pencil broke in half.

By then, the teacher was aware of some kind of disturbance in the field but he was a really cool teacher so he just sort of looked back and went on. Then there was an effort to get me another pencil as He asked the other students around us if they had an extra pencil. No one did. So he said he’d have to fix it. How do you fix a broken pencil? Well, you ask everyone around you for tape and you try to tape it back together and while you’re doing that, you’re going on and on, just above a whisper, describing what you are doing to fix the pencil, srep by step. It took several attempts at cutting the right size piece of tape and getting the two pieces into just the right position to wrap the tape around them. By then, the teacher had stopped talking and was looking back waiting for him to stop talking. The whole class was looking at us and I was turning a deep shade of red and trying not to laugh at the narrative which was really very funny. Finally, the teacher asked him if he would turn around and pay attention and he had the nerve to say, “Just a couple more minutes. I’m performing surgery on this pencil.”  The whole class cracked up, as did the teacher who just said, “Alright then hurry it up so you can follow along.”

That did it. After that we were just about inseparable, spending our Nutrition Break and our Lunch Break together every day, sitting on the Library ledge, talking, laughing, and then walking to classes together. There were after school functions but we didn’t go together because my parents were very strict. We had to meet at the gym and part ways at the gym after the games so my parents wouldn’t see us walking together when they dropped off and picked up.

Then came summer. That was really difficult because neither of us drove yet (he would get his license later that summer and I was still a year away from getting mine) and we lived pretty far from each other. Neither of us had a bike either. So the end of school meant we would, most likely, not see each other until September. When he signed my yearbook, he ended his page long dedication by quoting the lyrics to that old song, See You In September. It didn’t end there. That summer, my aunt and uncle came to visit us in northern California and they talked my parents into letting me go home with them. They lived in southern California, near Huntington Beach. The plan was for me to go home with them and then drive to Mexico with them for their annual summer trip to visit my aunt’s family. I would be gone for over a month. I wrote a letter to my sweet young man and he wrote back, asking me to send him some sand. Well, I did. One afternoon, as my cousin Rosie and I lay on the sand at Huntington Beach, I wrote him a letter. My cousin had heard all about him during our late night confessions as we spent hours talking when we were supposed to be sleeping. Rosie dared me to send him some sand like he had asked me to. So I wrote the letter and finished it off with the lyrics to Sealed With A Kiss and just before sealing the envelope, I put in some sand, sealed it, and kissed the back flap.

When I got back home, he called and asked if I could go to play miniature golf with him. He had gotten his license! Well, my parents said yes but only if my little sister could go with us. So, embarrassing as it was, I called him back and told him of my parents conditions and he accepted. So off we went to play mini golf but only after my dad invited him in to see his gun collection. I found it not so funny that every time a boy came anywhere near the house my dad took out his guns to clean them and the boys always were invited to see the collection. So after the not so subtle gun display, we went off to mini golf where he managed to steal a few kisses while my sister wasn’t looking. Our magical mini golf night ended with a trip to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour where we shared a huge banana split before he drove us home. When he walked me to the door and we said goodnight, he dared to kiss me again and I was in heaven. 

A couple of days later, while we talked on the phone, he informed me that his mom had not been happy about having sand spill all over the floor and he had to spend hours cleaning up every grain of sand to his mom’s satisfaction. That ended up not being so great because his mom soon put a stop to our budding romance by telling him that he was getting too serious about me and forbidding him from seeing me anymore. So, while summer held out promise, fun, song lyrics, mini golf, stolen kisses and sand, in hindsight that sand and the lipstick kiss on the back of the envelope might not have been a good idea because it garnered the attention of his mom.

Oh well! It was fun and it was probably the best summer I had for many decades. So, to the Pencil Surgeon who might be reading this, thank you for the best summer of my youth!

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Years ago, in what seems like previous lifte time, I was a member of one of the first social media attempts, Gather. It was promoted to me as a place where writers could post their work and get feedback and develop collegial relationships. I was really into developing my writing so I joined. I enjoyed it but there were so many people there for many reasons other than for writing. There were photographers sharing their work; foodies sharing their insights; technical types imparting their knowledge; and so many people just there for the points and money. Yes, it was a site where members could earn points for the content they posted and the comments and views their content garnered. Points could be turned in for cash (via PayPal) or gift cards. So, as you can imagine, there was a lot of junk there, too. I did develop some wonderful relationships which are still some of my closest friends although I have never met most of them. And I am happy to say that a few are still my most loyal blog readers. At one time, there was a group of us that met through Gather that all started or revived blogs. Most are no longer blogging but we are still in touch via Facebook.

Facebook brings me to another point about Gather, which is actually what inspired this post. Recently, one member has started a Facebook group devoted to finding old Gather members so everyone can get in touch with old friends. It’s a great idea for a lot of the old Gather members. The site, you see, disintegrated rather suddenly. The whole thing was sold to a Japanese company that promised they would maintain the site and develop it further. They didn’t. And then there was a lot of fighting and “ganging up” on some members and then it was suddenly shut down with no notice. I stopped “gathering” quite awhile before that happened. Someone emailed me and said it might happen so I went in and cashed in all of my points and never looked back. Unfortunately, I was naive enough to think that the content would remain online so I didn’t back up any of my stuff. I lost a lot of my writing and a lot of pictures that I no longer have anywhere. I still have my friends. There was a group of maybe fifty or so of my closest “gatherites” (Spell Check is going crazy on this post) that remained in touch. One member, Lydia, who some of you might remember died a couple of years ago, bought membership on another site where she started a group for us to keep in touch and post our stuff or just “talk to each other.” I no longer remember the name of that site or if it is even around anymore. And if it is still around, without Lydia, I’m sure our slot was not paid for so isn’t there anymore. More of my stuff lost! I don’t care so much about that as much as I care about losing the conversations and the memories we shared, especially with the members that have passes as there have been five or six that I can recall that have passed.

In any case, I know I’m rambling, Gather brought back a lot of memories for a lot of us, not all of them are good memories. A lot of the Gather members no longer want to have anything to do with any of it so it has been interesting to see the efforts of this guy (his name is Thomas) as he attempts to revive the old relationships. I’ve been sort of helping as a Moderator for the group. Mostly, Thomas wants me to help him navigate through some of the stuff he didn’t expect to encounter, such as people who are adamantly against him renewing anything related to Gather. A lot of the problems have revolved around privacy issues that he didn’t anticipate or understand so I’m sort of there to tell him when I think he might encounter some resistance. He kind of runs things by me. I don’t mind doing it. I am sort of in a middle point. I don’t necessarily want to get in touch with any of the members that I’m not now in touch with but I have enjoyed one member in particular who has posted a few of his new writings. I used to really enjoy his stuff so I am glad that I’m reading his work again. And if anyone has saved some of my stuff, it would be good to have that. Yes, we are finding that some people printed out a lot of the stuff and have reams upon reams of Gather content saved.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about today. I’m thinking about a lot of things actually. I’ve sort of been quiet here but that’s because of my glasses. I still don’t have the new ones. They came in but when I went to pick them up they had not made them right so they had to go back so another two weeks of being semi blind is keeping me from a lot of reading and writing, especially online where I have the back lighting to contend with.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to post again later today or tomorrow. And I will be coming around to read blogs, too. I’ve caught up a tiny bit but but there’s still so many I need to read.

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I remember writing out valentine cards to take to school. That was in the days when they didn’t say you had to take a valentine for everyone in the class. Because there were so many of us kids (7), my mom bought a package for each one of us even though we needed ore than one package if we were going to give to everyone in the class. So we had to choose. My mom would go through the list with us and ask at each name “Is this one your friend?” or “Do you want to give one to this one?” That was  difficult because I mostly wanted to send a card to everyone. I knew what it felt like to sit at your desk and wonder if you would get any cards. There were some kids that didn’t get very many, like Esmeralda who no one played with because she was born with a black spot on the side of her face. I knew who those kids were so I made sure that they got one from me and I always wondered if I would get very many.

I remember  in high school, selling carnations as a fundraiser for California Scholarship Federation (CSF). The carnations were pre-ordered and pre-paid then delivered to recipients during class on Valentine’s Day. They cost one dollar. Of course all of the cheer leaders and other cheer squad girls walked around with lots of carnations that they had gotten. My sister, her friends, and me would pool our money and send them to each other to make sure we each got at least one flower on Valentine’s Day.

In college, during my sophomore year, I met the man I would marry. On a trip from Stanford to Los Angeles to meet his sister, his car was having a lot of trouble. It was leaking oil and we had to keep stopping. It took us about nine hours to get there instead of the six it should have taken. On one of the stops, in the tiny town of Atascadero, we had to get more oil so he parked the car and got out while I waited. When he came back to the car, he had the oil and before popping open the hood to put the oil in, he handed me a little bag with a chocolate covered marshmallow shaped like a heart. It was Valentine’s Day and he hadn’t mentioned it so I though he had forgotten all about it. But he hadn’t. He had bought me a candy at the auto parts store. That was the only valentine I ever got from him in fifteen years of marriage!

 

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How many of you remember hearing that 1962 hit song, Sealed With A Kiss by Brian Hyland? I remember it but of course, I’m of that certain age! It was quite popular long after 1962. It was one of those songs that spoke of all that puppy love we experienced.

When I was a sophomore in high school, there was this boy. Yeah, a very nice one that also thought I was a pretty nice girl. We spent most of the school year together then the end of the year came and we were faced with summer. We didn’t live in the same neighborhood and our families didn’t have much in common so we were pretty sure we were not going to see each other during the summer. In my yearbook, he ended his rather long writing with the part of the lyrics to the song:

“Though we have to say good bye for the summer,

Darling I promise you this,

I’ll send you all my love,

Every day in a letter,

Sealed with a kiss.”

Later that summer, I went to southern California to stay with my aunt and uncle for a couple of weeks. They had a couple of daughters that were close to my age so we got along and we did a lot of stuff that I would never have been allowed to do if I had been at home. We rode bikes all over Orange County and went on a midnight donut run and flirted with boys. One of the things we did a couple of times a week was go to the beach. They lived just down Beach Boulevard from Huntington Beach so it was a straight shot to the beach. During one of those beach trips, I wrote a letter to that young man I had left behind in San Jose. I didn’t swim so while the others were swimming, I would read or write letters. After all the mushy stuff and the details of all the things I had been doing with my cousins, I was perplexed about how to end it. I wanted to make a reference to the lyrics of the song he had quoted in my year book but I didn’t want his mom to see anything on the outside of the envelope as my initial idea was to put on lipstick and kiss the outside of the envelope. So that was nixed then I got the idea to just write “sealed with a kiss” inside the envelope so it would be the first thing he saw when he opened it. So I did, but I also enclosed a pinch of sand from the beach! At least I thought it was a pinch. Later on, I heard that it was more than a pinch and his mom had not liked having to vacuum the sand after it spilled when he opened it!

Can you think of any “memorable” letters you’ve written?

 

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My nephew almost died last week. He’s still in the hospital but he’s much better and should be going home in another three or so days. He presented with what appeared to be an ear infection but turned out to be viral meningitis. Had they not drained the fluid around his brain when they did, he would have died within just a few hours, according to the doctors. Pretty scary.

I spoke to my sister-in-law earlier today and she was frustrated because they wouldn’t let her visit him because of the fear of the flu and her age. She’s in her seventies and not in the best of health so if she were to contract the flu, it could be fatal. We’re having such a bad strain of it this year that it’s not a good idea to tempt the fates. She said she felt like having him walk to one of the windows where she could see him from outside, just so she would have the satisfaction of seeing him for herself. That’s what mamas need.

It reminded me of when that same sister-in-law was in the hospital with the birth of my second niece (from that brother’s side). My first niece was staying with us. I was in high school. My sister-in-law wanted to see her but the hospital didn’t allow children, not even siblings, in to visit. So we did the next best thing. My brother and I drove my niece to the hospital. He went up to my sister-in-law’s room and wheeled her to the window where she could see the car we were in. Then I pulled her out and held her up so her mommy could see her and pointed out her mommy to her. There were tears on both ends but they got to see one another and luckily it was only a couple of days before they were all together in the same room, at home.

Those are the little things that we forget about until years later when they come flying back into our memories. Little things. Little things that mean so much at the time. Little memories, but so important.

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I enjoy beer. I don’t get to drink it much anymore because it can interfere with my medicines and because I don’t have expendable cash.

The other day, when it got cold enough and wet enough to wear a coat, I found a twenty dollar bill in my coat pocket. Score!

While there are a lot of things I could have spent it on,  I was on  my way to the grocery  store and while there, I spotted my bargain beer. It’s not super popular, although after I first discovered it about a year ago I found out that it is the go to beer of college students because of the price and the not so bad taste. Rolling Rock is priced at $8.99 for an eighteen pack. So I spent half of my twenty on Rolling Rock. It will last a long time. My daughter bought me an eighteen pack last year and it lasted me four months.

Tonight, I decided to have a can and as I sipped on it,  it occurred to me that my dad must have felt the same about his go to beer as I feel about Rolling Rock. His was PBR. Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s cheap and is not bad. My dad had seven kids and was the only bread winner. So he needed cheap beer. It was usually PBR but at times, when he needed even cheaper beer, it was Brown Derby.

So tonight, as I enjoy one can of Rolling Rock,  I’ll toast my dad and I will be thankful that Rolling Rock isn’t too bad.

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That’s where it came from.

I was in bed a little while ago. The grandkids are spending the night and the two boys always want to sleep in my bed and I have to be in the bed with them or they get upset. So I am in the bed not sleeping. I’m in pain but I can’t take the pain pills because they make me zonk out and I can’t do that with the kids here. The little one is not quite nine months old and might wake up because she’s in a strange bed although she normally sleeps through the night. The four year old wakes up and wants to go outside. He actually gets the step ladder and unlocks the chain and goes outside. Even if it’s dark and rainy. And I don’t hear him even when I am not on pain pills so I’m sure I would not hear him on pain pills. So no pain pills. And I have to sleep on my right side to avoid some of the pain but I can’t because of the position of the boys.

So I am in bed, awake. And that’s when it happened.

A memory. It was 1990. An almost forgotten memory and one that I have surely put out of my head for self preservation. But it came back. And it made me cry. I had to get up and leave the room because I was afraid the boys would wake up with my crying. It all came back. I was on the freeway, the 101 southbound, in my car with the kids who were 10, 7, and 2. My kids. My husband had left home six weeks prior to that day because he needed a break and wasn’t sure he wanted to be married anymore. I had gone up north to see my sister and so that the kids could visit with their cousins and so that we wouldn’t be home alone thinking and missing him. We were on our way home. Then a car was passing us and out of the corner of my eye I realized it looked like his car. Then I looked and realized it was. He was driving it but he wasn’t alone. And I didn’t know who the woman with him was. When he saw that it was me and that I had seen him, he floored the gas pedal.

That’s how I found out that my “soul mate” was cheating on me.

And that’s what came flooding back a little while ago. And now for sure I won’t sleep. It will be a long night.

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California

Some of you may remember that I am from California, though I live in Oregon. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, in San Jose. I lived there until college then moved up the road to Palo Alto. After college I lived in southern California for too many years then found my way back up north to Santa Rosa. I love California. It will always be my home. California, at least a bit of it, lives inside of me.

Santa Rosa. It’s a small town in Sonoma County, about forty-five minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s in Wine Country. And right now, it’s on fire. There is currently a horrible fire storm in a number of counties in the area. I didn’t keep up with the statistics over the weekend because I took a bit of a break from all the news, most of which is horrible or sad in some way. But I know that as of last Friday it had consumed more than three thousand structures, killed at least thirty-one people, and over six hundred were reported missing. Yeah. A real tragedy that has made me so sad.

As my connection to the Houston hurricane which some of you may remember, this Santa Rosa fire has saddened me greatly. Structures that I am well familiar with were totally lost. The beautiful trees and hills have been charred. And, in this case, one of my aunts lost her home. I am just glad that they weren’t home because she and her husband both take sleeping pills and I’m afraid that if they had been home, they may not have been aware of the fire in time. They lived up on a hill top cul-de-sac, where the only way out is a very narrow road. But they weren’t home which is a blessing in some ways. Because they weren’t home, they didn’t have the opportunity to save anything at all. Everything they had, other than what they had with them in their RV (they were on their way to Wyoming) is gone. Their cars. Their clothing. Her doll collection. His extensive gun collection. Their wall safe with a lot of cash melted. (Don’t believe it when they claim they are fire proof.) Their personal memorabilia. Photographs. Mementos. It’s all gone.

My aunt says they are too old to rebuild that custom home. I’m not sure where they will choose to move to. My aunt has lived in the area her entire life and her husband has too, with the exception of his time in the Navy. Their lives are so closely tied to the Santa Rosa area.

My daughter’s former co-workers and friends, some of them anyway, also lost their homes. These are younger people who might not have been properly insured. This is so devastating for them, as well.

Entire neighborhoods are gone and unlike the popular thought, they are not the fancy neighborhoods like the one my aunt lived in. Many of these are where working class people lived and worked and went to school and played. Many of these people lost not only their homes and everything in them (the fire came through without warning, in the middle of the night and people had just moments to grab keys and run), they’ve also lost the place of employment with so many businesses burned to the ground.

There have been some bright spots. Some incredible kindnesses shown. Perhaps I’ll write about some of those this week.

The fires are still going. It has been an entire week of flames in the area and the smoke continues to blacken the skies. If you’re a praying person, please pray for the area and that the fires are put out as soon as possible. And of course, let’s pray for the firefighters who have been working round the clock, often working three back to back to back shifts with no rest.

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