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Good day and other ruminations

I’m still basking in the glow of last week’s great gift, which enabled me to pay off last summer’s construction loan, budget money to insulate the attic and restore my propane service, do a little paying forward, and still put plenty aside. Yesterday another of my angels flew in and I immediately put his contribution to good use, also. In fact, three of Living Freedom’s biggest angels have been involved in all this. (And Patreon made its monthly payout, also put to good use, thank you.)

Is there a word for a band of angels? Flock? Pride? Flight? Gratitude? A gratitude of angels. Yeah, I like that one.


The glow is helped along by the fact that the sun is glowing hereabouts and intends to keep doing so all week. Temps are cold and the ground frosty, but hey, a sunny week in December you don’t quibble about.


Today I’m going to finish up a chapter draft for the book Kit and I are working on. And that’s a glowy thing, too. It’s going well. One of our reality checkers even offered to provide us with material for a new chapter we hadn’t thought of including. It was a good idea, too.

A harmonious collaboration is my favorite form of writing.


And in the “Why I love this town” department

Ava and I were walking downtown Saturday afternoon when the weather began changing. We started off in breezy drizzle and concluded outside the tienda as the setting sun melted the clouds and the air went very still.

The tienda, along with nearly every other business in town has burst out in Christmas window paintings. This is something new. The painting started at the Chamber of Commerce before Halloween. Only at the Chamber at first. On November 1, down came the ghosts and goblins, and up went the pumpkins and gobblers. First thing, the morning after Thanksgiving, it was Santa and reindeer.

But unlike the earlier decorations, the Christmas paintings spread town-wide. The PO got postal Santas, telling customers to send their Christmas cheer early. The lumberyard got reindeer delivering loads of tools and materials. The chiropractor got therapeutic snowpersons. A private office owned by devout Catholics who also have an arty bent got gorgeous stained-glass windows with nativity scenes. The tienda, of course, got a bandito snowman with a colorful sombrero and bandoleros. (Our local minorities are really, really not into being offended by stereotypes.)

I happened to run into the artist while he was working on the PO. I asked him if the Chamber of Commerce had hired him for all this. And here’s the first part of what I love.

He said, “Nope. Nope. This is all volunteer. I’m not getting paid. This is my gift to the town.”

And he’d been out there every day. For weeks. In all kinds of (bad) weather.

Then he reached into his pocket and told me the next lovely thing.

“But,” he said, “just a couple minutes ago one of the top-of-the-top cops showed up and gave me this.” He revealed a $100 bill tucked into his palm.

Of course $100 isn’t much for weeks of work. But that is the kind of people we have around here — even the kind of cops. I hope others have done something similar. I haven’t (yet); I haven’t run into the artist since then. But I’ll make a point of it now.

Finally on Saturday’s walk I heard the third thing I love.

I paused outside the tienda to examine the infamous bandito snowman (the artist said it was the big hit of all his works). And along came Sergio, who owns the place. We know each other to say hi to but have never really talked. I thanked him for making such a great go of a food business when so many have come and gone. He told me he plans to retire and go home to Guadelajara in a few years, but to leave the tienda in the hands of its wonderful cooks. Then we got to talking about the bandito snowman and all that window art.

And he told me that the artist who’s spent all these weeks, in all that weather, painting store windows as a gift to our town doesn’t even live here. He’s just a drifter — retired navy guy, Sergio thinks — who’s been staying at a motel in town this fall.

And I’ll tell you. For this sort of thing and many other reasons, even if the whole country were to fall into dictatorship and doom, I’d want to stay rooted right here where I am. Forget “the world’s best places.” Forget the hucksters promoting their country or their state or their redoubt or their community as the place to be.

This is home.


  1. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran December 5, 2017 11:19 am

    We’re supposed to get our first lake-effect snow event of the season overnight. It *is* Western New York State, where lake-effect snow is a regular thing in the winter, either off of Lake Erie, where this evening’s squalls will be coming from with a brisk wind out of the west, or off of Lake Ontario when the wind is out of the north. This is just the start…

  2. Claire
    Claire December 5, 2017 11:20 am

    You guys are quite famous for those four-foot snowfalls you so routinely live with. Have fun.

  3. Pat
    Pat December 5, 2017 12:48 pm

    Claire – Have you thought of painting your own freedom-oriented holiday greeting on one of your windows – or having the artist do it for you? Maybe you could start a town tradition, and liven up the private homes as well as businesses.

  4. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 5, 2017 12:56 pm

    I hear you, Claire. I have similar attachment to this place now.

    So far, there isn’t much decoration in town, but the rather elderly hangings the city puts up on the old fashioned lamp posts on main street went up today. No “muzak” in the stores, not that I can ever remember there being any, but I’m glad. It gets tiresome. The mercantile store, hardware store and a few others are now offering things for gifts, of course, but no massive decorations either in or outside. A few houses have exterior lights up, but all are very modest.

    There is the wooden shell of the annual nativity scene on the courthouse lawn, surrounded by cut pine branches and awaiting the statues. The baby is put in the manger on Christmas Eve every year, and so far nobody’s stolen it or vandalized the scene. The sad, cut Christmas trees are lined up along the front of the two grocery stores – seriously overpriced, but they smell good.

    On another note, a city cop pulled up beside me the other day, in what passes for traffic here. When I looked over, he smiled and waved. I have no idea what was up with that, but I’m glad for it. I think I met him in the bank one day… but I can’t be sure. 🙂 I smiled and waved back.

    We had our first light snow over the weekend, and it has gotten down into the teens most nights, but I don’t worry about the cold too much. Some neighbors brought me a big load of firewood two weeks ago, and they have invited me to come share their Christmas Eve with their children. I can’t wait.

    Yes indeed. It’s that kind of town.

  5. Comrade X
    Comrade X December 5, 2017 1:39 pm

    Now you guys are making me want to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” again!

    Is there a word for a band of angels, how bout; Halo!

  6. Claire
    Claire December 5, 2017 2:05 pm

    I hadn’t thought of that, Pat. But it’s a cool idea. I doubt I could start any townie tradition, out here in the boonies as I am. But getting that guy to paint a window on my house would be a good way to get some money to him.

    Here’s something odd, too. I mentioned the Catholic/artist-owned business that got the graceful and dignified stained-glass nativity scenes. Those were very, very different than everything else he’s done. The rest is all elves and Santas and snowmen, trees, humor, and North Pole signs.

    Well, at lunch I ran into the woman who owns that business and congratulated her on the beautiful art. I said, “I could tell you had a lot of influence on what he painted for you.”

    She said, in this dramatic way she always has, “NO. That’s the thing. I had nothing to do with that. All I told him was ‘have it say Merry Christmas’ and what colors I liked.”

    “But it’s so different than everybody else’s. It’s so completely you.”

    “I know. It is me. And I love it. But I had nothing to do with it. Not a thing.”

  7. Claire
    Claire December 5, 2017 2:08 pm

    I mentioned writing collaborations in this post. Then I got a private message from T.L.Free, who sent this link:

    It’s more than a decade old and I’d have never remembered talking about the subject. But for anybody who’s interested in how good writing collaborations work, there it is.

  8. Jim Brook
    Jim Brook December 5, 2017 2:49 pm

    A murder of crows; a glow of angels?

  9. Claire
    Claire December 5, 2017 3:15 pm

    A glow of angels … a halo of angels …

    You guys are good.

  10. larryarnold
    larryarnold December 5, 2017 5:26 pm

    Host of angels, as in the Heavenly Host.

    Around here it’s a tradition for high school and college art students to paint store windows. The high school students also paint windows for the homecoming football game. (We have one high school. The town supports “our” team.)

  11. Claire
    Claire December 5, 2017 7:01 pm

    “Host of angels, as in the Heavenly Host.”

    Oh, but that’s so boring. It makes them sound as if they run a middlebrow hotel. Besides, doesn’t the “Heavenly Host” include all those cherubim and seraphim and a whole lot of other skyborne riff-raff? Surely serious angels deserve their own category!

  12. parabarbarian
    parabarbarian December 5, 2017 11:13 pm

    A Flight of Angels.

  13. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran December 6, 2017 2:50 am

    With the lake-effect snow event, I wasn’t sure what I’d be waking up to this morning, but so far, we haven’t gotten anything. West of us, Batavia and Buffalo are getting it, but so far the Rochester area has dodged a bullet.

  14. Claire
    Claire December 6, 2017 6:22 am

    “A Flight of Angels”


  15. Jim Brook
    Jim Brook December 6, 2017 7:14 am

    Larry, you’re right. That is how the scriptures refer to a group of angels, at least in the English. I forgot. Then again, our Bibles are a translation of a translation, so who knows what the original word actually was. Something Aramaic for the New Testament probably, but in the time of Moses, who knows what language. The oldest surviving manuscript fragments still around are in Greek. The Greek alphabet did not even exist yet at the time of Moses, according to the Ink and Blood exhibit that toured the country. Perhaps the Aramaic word was best translated as “glow.”

  16. Claire
    Claire December 6, 2017 8:33 am

    “Then again, our Bibles are a translation of a translation, so who knows what the original word actually was.”


    Our resident bible scholar might want to speak up on this. But until he chooses to put in an appearance, I can note that “hosts” is nothing but another word for “masses.” It’s not necessarily specific to angels, even in the bible:

    The very same bible term translated as “hosts” has also been translated as armies, servants, ministers, “contingent of workers,” and even as “heavenly bodies” (as in the sun, moon, and stars).

    Excruciating detail for those who want to know more:

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