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Shards Snippet

Tomorrow I'll be announcing the contest winners, so here's your Christmas snippet a little early. :) Enjoy.

A warder answered. The man was huge, tall and wide and a solid wall of muscle, Seregil judged. He shuddered inwardly at the thought of being at this fellow’s mercy.
The smell inside the madhouse was appalling, reeking of filth and human misery. He and Thero both pulled out handkerchiefs and covered their mouth and nose.
The lower floor was divided into two large, barred cells, one filled with a horrific assortment of men in all stages of decline, some naked, and some clearly starving to death. The other held an equally pitiful collection of women dressed in dingy, shapeless shifts. Most of them were asleep but those awake raised an outcry at Thero and Seregil’s approach and instantly the whole place was in an uproar. The inmates screamed, roared, sobbed. Dirty hands clawed at them through the bars on both sides.
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Desolation of Smaug

So, we saw Desolation of Smaug last night. I can certainly see why there are mixed reactions. I don't want to do any spoilers so I won't give details but will share my son Matt's summation: half WOW, half outraged declaration of "Jackson is writing his own fan fiction!" I have to agree. But the cast? WOW! Smaug? WOW!!!! As many others have said: Best dragon ever. The visuals? Definite WOW! The parts of the book that actually made it to the screen? Double WOW! The rest? Meh. But Martin Freeman makes it all worthwhile.

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Hmm. Who could it be?

Apartfrom the scruff and eyebrows, this looks quite a lot like a certain friend of ours.

Oh, and just two days until the contest winner is revealed!

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Christmas Cuteness

I've always wanted a bonsai, but am not sure I could keep one alive. This one, however, with tiny red twinkle sights, is rather tempting.

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Yuletide thoughts

For some reason I'm looking forward to Christmas more than usual. Yes, I'm Buddhist and I still celebrate Christmas, the most materialistic of holidays. But it's not about the material, but about the legacy of love that has always been associated with it in my family. Christmas was always a time of peace and fun in my household when I was growing up. Christmas dinner was not marred by anger or resentful silences, grandparents came for rare overnight visits with a station wagon full of gifts from the downstate relatives, and once we even got a puppy (who later turned out to be one of the most annoying dogs ever (Rusty), but it was magical at the time), snow, the Santa myth prolonged as long as possible with sled tracks in the yard and bites from cookies, then reinterpreted into a lesson in love and generosity. I consider myself very fortunate. So yes, I still practice it, and not in the least to honor my root teacher, Jesus, who taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Today's Buddhist Thought

Don’t worry if you feel you can only do one tiny good thing in one small corner of the cosmos. Just be a Buddha body in that one place.

~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Literary Meme

Today's meme seems to be: List ten books that mean a great deal to you. Here goes:
The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by AC Doyle
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Moon of Three Rings by Andre Norton
The Persian Boy by Mary Renault
I Claudius by Robert Graves.

What are yours?

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How Emma Stays Golden Brown

She toasts herself like a marshmallow. She's so happy it's fireplace season again!

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In other doggie news Zoe has been granted a reprieve. She must have sensed our displeasure, because she's been much nicer to Emma. Jack is a worried and paranoid as ever, but also a big friendly goof to those he loves, including our frequent guests. He is not a willing photography subject. Every time I try to snap a picture he comes over and sits on my feet.

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Zoe would not stay still long enough.

Just a little Flewelling Clan Update

It's been awhile since I posted family stuff. On Thanksgiving Doug was with his mom in Maine, so Matt, Tim, and Tim's almost fiancee Ari and I drove out to Joshua Tree Nat'l Park for a picnic and hike. Here are my 'kids' and our 'it looked better in person' feast, featuring a fold out paper turkey centerpiece and matching paper plates. From left to right: Ari Haro, Tim Flewelling, Matt Flewelling.

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Deep Relaxation

The holidays can be so stressful. I thought I would share my current practice in calming and breathing.

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