Articles by Colleen

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Hello, and happy snowy Friday to you! What a beautiful morning it was. We woke early, got our sweat on in the basement, shoveled the walk, and got our girl out before she went mad with anticipation.

She is a sled dogging snow plow in such weather, straining for swiftness and to inhale every scent nestled in the snow: the dead rabbit near the church, every pee laden message at her favorite pine shrub, every footprint and tire track. As ever, it is a joy to witness.

How are you holding up? Since Greg’s been working from home for more than five years, and we are fairly solitary creatures, our routine isn’t much changed. My heart aches for first responders, medical workers, letter carriers and delivery drivers, and grocery store employees and those who crave gatherings and boisterousness and noise, and especially those whose incomes depend upon it. Thankfully, there seems to be quite the upswell in creative ways for touching from a distance to quote a line from a favorite Joy Division song. Parades instead of birthday parties, Zoom meetings of every sort, bathroom concerts streamed live on Facebook. Necessity really is the mother of invention.

I hope you are finding a way to what makes your heart sing. I hope you are staying healthy and safe, too.

Let Rise

Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light rise from the chambers of the east, and bring the honey’d dew that cometh on waking day. O radiant morning: salute the sun.

William Blake


James Marshall was born a fox. Red-haired and a little wild in the eyes. His Momma’s clever fox, handsome fox. His Pop’s too. His big sister’s best little kit.

Yelp. Yelp. Yelp.

Later, James Marshall became a firefly, gazing out the window at the magical language of his kin. For though he was bright enough to light the Ozarks and for Grandpa Nicolaus to read by, his wings were too small to fly.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

One day James Marshall lost his wings and became a boy. A giddy big brother of a boy, curious and ever so fast to smile. But his body hurt and would not let him out of bed. Not to jump with his Momma, swing with his Pops, romp with his fox family, or flit among the fireflies.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Momma and Pops took him to the doctor. A long ride in the car. There he became the boy under the lights, warm hands and cold hands. Big voices and small voices. Machines & medicine. Talking fast and slow. So many words.

No. No. No.

Always his Momma. To her, he was still her handsome fox. Always his Pops, who helped him touch the stars. And brother and sister and Grandpa Nicolaus, too.

Love. Love. Love.

Sadly, nothing could make him well. Not the doctors, not the medicines and machines. Not his Momma, nor his Pops. Not the foxes, nor the fireflies. He could not yelp. He could not blink.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

He got so tired, and his wee body could do no more. And then the sky exploded, and James Marshall, the fox, the firefly, the boy, became the 4th of July.

Boom. Boom. Boom.


James Marshall was my great uncle, born October 22, 1918. He died on the 4th of July 1921 of a giant cell sarcoma of the right kidney.

Since learning about him in my ancestral research, we’ve spent much time together, both on this plane and in dreamtime. This story is as much his as it is mine. I know he likes it, and I hope you do, too.


Hello from nanuck and his cowboy hat girlfriend! Greg’s words, not mine, but chuckle worthy and true, especially when you look at his shadow on the street. Very eskimo and cowboy.

Thankfully, we are still enjoying all of our dining in (Greg says it’s the best restaurant in town), the top photo the best pork chop of my life and the steak at the bottom topped with a Korean BBQ style sauce of wonder. I’ve been brining, smoking, then pan finishing just about all our meats lately, and what delicious magic it has been. Everything cooked to absolute perfection.

I found a no-knead bread recipe from King Arthur flour, which was crusty good and enjoyed over two days, and this week’s Sunday dessert was cake made with freeze dried strawberries, the frosting, too, utterly cheery and delicious! My ever-sensitive system found it all a bit much, sadly, so I am going to dial back the grains to one day a week. Too much information, I know.

We braved the world in the car on Saturday, the first time in 16 days, off to Target and Safeway (we have vegetables and greens again!), and felt positively weird to be shopping with such heightened awareness. I made a bottle of hand sanitizer with alcohol, water, a little avocado oil, and essential oils, and sprayed every cart surface liberally, and our hands, too. One small measure of control in our very unsettling times. So far, so good.

It was also nice enough to get work done in the garden and chat with neighbors as they walked or bicycled by. Everything is greening up, and the tulips should be beginning their show soon. How I am looking forward to that!

How cute is Greg enjoying a prickly pear margarita last weekend? I made tamales, red chile, and Anasazi beans to go with them, which was marvelous and photographed poorly, but who really cares with that dazzler of a smile?

How are you? We are at day 15 without leaving the house besides a dog walk. Our food supply is pretty good, except for fresh produce, with three apples, three carrots, and one jalapeno and poblano left. We have plans to get rid of our thorny blackberries (OUCH!!) and replace them with lettuces and spinach, maybe some carrots, too. Though I am sincerely hoping it will be a bonus rather than a necessity, but who knows? These are such strange times.

Our health is good, some sniffles after a super windy walk yesterday, so hoping that doesn’t equate to anything serious. I am worried for my friends in the medical profession, as they are already having meetings about not having enough personal protective equipment to get through the crisis, despite government reports saying there are plenty to go around. And then there is every last person suffering financially. I know my prayers mean not a whit, so we are helping those we can how we can. May it be enough to sustain them until government money arrives.

This is Texas Sheet cake, also made last Sunday (p.s. – If you decide to try it and don’t like a cloyingly sweet cake, cut the sugar in half – you won’t regret it!). My friend Whitney was the first (maybe only?) person to make it for me, way back when I was a whippersnapper of twenty-two. I remember being in her kitchen on Albion Street in Denver, us chatting while she washed dishes, waxing poetic about how easy and delicious it was. I hit the pause button the moment she said it contained cinnamon. My rather unworldly upbringing had never-ever put cinnamon and chocolate together. How weird would it be? Would I like it? The answer was a resounding yes, and now, twenty-six years later, I cannot recall the number of times I have made this fabulous flavor combination.

After lamenting the soy flour contained in the blue corn pancake mix we bought in Santa Fe, I ordered some plain blue corn flour (masa) from Gold Mine and made a batch of pancakes the day the box arrived at our door. They were delicious! If you’d like to try your hand at them, they’ve been added to my long list of pancake recipe combinations that can be found here. Enjoy!

Feeling grateful for our every day walks, this beautiful city, and every moment that makes me smile, like this wee one on his way to work!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed with the news, I think on my light and inspiration, my Great Aunt Mary (who would have been 112 on St. Patrick’s Day!). The oldest of seven, she lived through the death of every one of her siblings, save my Grandma Tess, by 1975, the youngest at the age of twenty-five.

Her faith was boundless, and she was the most selfless, loving, and giving person I have ever known. Though she suffered many a heart break and disappointment, she never let her feathers ruffle, never uttered an unkind word. A smile was never far from her lips, nor a chuckle or a prayer. She walked her talk to the utmost!

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