October 2015

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Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it.

I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.

Sylvia Plath


It’s Me

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness.

Look at your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.

Rita Mae Brown


And the hills are kitted out in their beautiful best.  The mood changes with the whim of the wind and scudding clouds, leaving me to shiver or coo, hood up or eyes squinting at the the warmth of the sun. How lucky I am to be wandering this neck of the woods, to traipse loudly through ankle deep leaves, to hear the squawk and chirp and cry of every manner of bird, greeting me from on high, to know a bit more of the world.

And with fall comes the shift from the snap and crunch of giant summer salads to roasted vegetables and hearty soups, the house warmly scented. I am jiving on this combination, as of late: a winter squash and red grapes, dotted with butter and flaked sea salt. On days that I remember, I toss in rosemary from the garden for the last few minutes, and everything is elevated. Mmmm, yes!

How about that smile! Last Sunday’s walking adventure to St. George’s Ukrainian Church in Brighton Heights for their Ethnic Food Festival. We devoured more hearty fall fare, Stroganoff, buttery rolls, borscht (for the hubster, I don’t do beets), mushroom barley soup, pierogies, and sausage with the best cabbage I’ve ever tasted.

The scrape of metal chairs on linoleum and a wall lined with crooked pictures of Jesus and the saints sent me straight back to childhood and the countless hours spent at Our Lady of Grace. The church where my dad was an Altar Boy, and I earned my First Communion. The church where Father Moynihan taught me, with a wink and a smile, how to shake hands properly. The church where I saw my Grandma Frances in her Sunday best, gloved hands, lipstick, and the scent of Aqua Net. Oh, nostalgia, how you blur the tedium and frustration and shine a light on all that is fine.

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Hat Tips

Good Monday, gentle reader. How are you? I am snazzy-jazzy and a wee bit tired. A good tired though, the ilk that occurs when one has mightily been heaved out of a rut and seen the glory of possibility, not unlike this shot of the sky at sunrise. This very same sky, which, on the 11th of October, held views of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, AND the Moon, all at once! I sighed and gawped in incredulity and made numerous blurry photos because, damn, if I was too lazy to get out the tripod. BUT, if you look VERY closely, what may appear to be a speck of dust in the darker regions of the photo is actually Venus, in the final gleams of her morning glory. I tip my hat to you, miraculous Universe, every single day.

And more hat tips, of a more earthly variety, to friends, neighbors, and strangers, worthy of a shout and holler and your consideration to their proffered services and wares. In no particular order:

Block Island Organics – I mentioned my fondness for their fantastic sunscreen earlier in the year. Well, they are branching out and sent me a full size sample of their Purifying Facial Cleanser.  I’ve been using it for the past month and could not be more pleased. It’s got a gentle foaming action that freshens without drying my skin. Another win! If you’d like to try it, or any of their products, actually, use the code colleens through October 25th to receive 20% off. Yippee!

Wild Card – My favorite local shop for cards and gifts: t-shirts, jewelry, all things Pittsburgh, local art, paper, every happy bit of the random and sundry.

The Dreaming Well – Ever had a weird dream that you cannot shake, but also cannot, for the life of you, divine any meaning? Maybe it was a good dream, though it might have been a nightmare, or just a puzzler. I often find myself in bland shopping malls with a lot of ramps. Weird, I know. Anyway, if you are curious about deciphering the language of your dreams, my friend Travis can help. He’s been thoughtfully exploring the dream world for more than twenty years and is very empathetic and incredibly insightful, offering group and private sessions, and helping me and others get to the bottom (pun intended!) of those ramps.

Erstwhile Mercantile – Make everything chalkboard with these multi-purpose decals!

Little Truths Studio – One of my dear Portland friends has opened a shop offering lovely watercolor cards and prints, a bit of fun and the unexpected, too.

Maren Jensen – My darlin’ Maren makes thought provoking zines and posters to keep a mind a whirling…

Good L’Oven – Giant cookie love right here in Bellevue. A hop, skip, and a jump from our house to deliciousness of all stripes. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Dee, the kindly wizard baker and owner also sells a plethora of locally made goods: soaps, honey, cleansers, nuts, cheeses, and more. We love this place!

Camamu – I’ve been using my friend Lori’s soap for more than a decade now, and it never disappoints. She and her talented team make every kind: soothe your hands, your scalp, your pooch, even the bum of a newborn babe. My latest favorite is the Fisherman Anise, sooo good! Portlanders can buy it at her lovely shop in Sellwood, at Powell’s and New Seasons, too. I did a big happy dance when I found it at the Cranberry TJ Maxx, but EVERYONE can buy it at the online shop. It’s worth every penny!




…she began to stand around the gate and expect things. What things? She didn’t know exactly. Her breath was gusty and short. She knew things that nobody ever told her. For instance, the words of the trees and the wind… She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the grey dust of its making.

Zora Neale Hurston


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