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Nighttime walking, positively giddy with neon and gliding geese. Quiet and brisk, my hat pulled down over my ears, fingers laced with the hubster’s. Everything I don’t need to see is hidden, forgotten, mostly, save my worries and woes, which, thankfully, are few at the moment. Goodness, yes.

Our little brick house is one step closer to reality. We had inspections yesterday, by fine and thoroughly kind professionals and were grateful for good news and even excitement from our structural engineer (“One quarter inch of settling in sixty years – incredible!”) and celebrated with high-fives and me gasping, “I could hug you!”

So now, my head is full up with ideas I can rightly execute and thinking about contractors, plumbers, tilers, cabinet installers. Someone who will repair and sand the neglected floors. Another who builds fences, so I can spin like a dervish in the back yard with only the hubster and Google satellites to witness it. Excitement. Cabinet fronts! New windows! Light fixtures – sixteen on their way! This is happening, and we are not going to eke it out like Portland. Sixteen years of projects and paint will be done in rapid HGTV style, with us camped out in the basement, using a pink toilet and a sink short enough for elementary schoolers to delight in the oh-my-goodness-I-don’t-need-a-stool wonderment of it all.

And it was SEVENTY degrees outside when I wrote this. In February. Oh, Colorado!


South Side

Carousing, in our mild way, on the streets of the South Side. I found a dozen pennies and a couple nickels scattered on the ground, some thoughtful person anticipating my delight, I like to think, that weird woman who will always stop for a coin. To state the obvious, I love the collection of neon here, probably Pittsburgh’s best concentration, juxtaposed against the cow’s head, perched high, and gazing down on them all. Old and young, we all live together.

We ate far more than we ought at Winghart’s, including a ridiculously rich and enormous funnel cake (such a weak spot for fried dough!), no carnival required. Winghart’s, along with Burgatory and Benjamin’s, makes the best burgers in town. My favorites all have jalapenos on them, just in case you were wondering. I like spicy (but not so much as to ruin the flavor), and with the exception of home cooking, it’s very difficult to find in these parts. No Tabasco for eggs. Mild salsa. Not-so-hot and sour soup. My friend calls it the mid-west palate. It makes my mouth sad.

Speaking of palates, are you geared up and ready for all foods homey and Thanksgiving? No spice necessary! We are going to friends for the feast and bringing Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, mashed sweet potatoes, and home made pecan pie. It’s funny how foods like crescent rolls and jellied cranberry (which our friends are providing), that when tried as an adult are often offensive, yet are integral to the Thanksgiving experience, how every adult I’ve ever met must have at least one item served at their childhood table. Whether it is nostalgia or expectations, I’m not certain, but I like the sweetness of it, how we carry so much of youth with us, always.

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Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.



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How to Be Happy

I was recently asked if I was for real. At first I didn’t know what the question meant. Flesh? Blood? And thought, just to be cheeky, “Nope, I am the best fucking hologram you’ve ever seen. I’m just missing the tell-tale H.” Then I realized it was a matter of my personality, my happiness, my positivity that was being questioned. How do I do it? The world is so wretched and filled with inequity, cruelty, horror. There’s hardly reason to be so blithe. I beg to differ, from the depths of my being, with all I’ve got. I do. I do. I do.

So, much like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I’ve been counting the ways and whys, my modus operandi to happy.

1. Dance – Every single day. Around the house and yard. In the produce section. Naked, after a bath, laughing at the jiggly bits. In the car, radio at full volume. With a child, your sweetheart, best friend, a cat, ferret, or bunny. On tip toe. Do it, and be glad!

2. Be grateful. For every morning. I get to do it again! For every kindness and breath. For love. For friends. For hugs. For dust motes swirling in slanting beams of light. For bold type on crisp paper. For the truth (it is out there!). For lies. For barking dogs. For music. For food, water, and whiskey, a cup of steaming tea. For faded photographs and crystal clear memories.

3. Love your body. Love its failings, the throbbing temples, squinting eyes, fat thighs and bottom, the ache of neck and back. Love its beauty, the silken hair, the soft lips, the arced brows, the rosy, freckled cheeks. Love its strengths, to hold a soul, a pencil, a thought on the tip of the tongue.

4. Make friends with pain, of war, smashed fingers, murderous rampages, heartache, cruelty, never-ending endometriosis and ovaries that have failed. Treat it with affection and reverence.

5. Acknowledge feelings. Kindly sit with them. All of them, in still patience, no need for gestures or words. Let them BE – fiery, heavy, soft, and sweet, then watch them fly.

6. Be yourself. Do what you like and love. Examine, write, curse, ride, race, guffaw!

7. Listen. To others (wholeheartedly). To birds. To children. To Thom, Ella, or Jim belting out a song. To the rush of the earth spinning.

8. Look up and out. Flowers, insects, a universe await your wide and wondrous eyes.

9. Be kind and generous, to creatures great and small. Extend a hand. Say hello. Compliment.

10. Laugh. At farts, dumb jokes, and old-fashioned silliness. Most especially at yourself, when times are rough and good and grand.

11. Let go of all you don’t truly need. Treasures, knickknacks, humiliation, the unkind, the selfish, the drama queens. Send them away with love, if you can.

12. Surround yourself with happy. Books, movies, people, and thoughts. Happiness, everywhere happiness, and so it will be!



Tuesday was a good day. My friend Susan was feeling under the weather, so I chauffeured her to the DMV, where we discussed life, the horrid power of migraines, and chuckled about the inefficiencies and oddities of government offices, the people you don’t seem to see anywhere else. Then it was off to my favorite Indian place for lunch. I was reminded of the best signs of a fine friendship. No need for the fancy or the complicated. Let’s go to the DMV or the supermarket or sit on the front stoop and chat, the rest doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.

After that, I wandered downtown, keen on finding the QUIN candy shop. It is tucked into Union Way (blink and you might miss it), which is reminiscent of a European style shopping arcade and very, very cool. The shop is about the size of my bathroom, but is jam packed with yumminess, nearly all of it made with locally sourced ingredients just blocks away, and without anything wince inducing like artificial flavors or corn syrup.  I had a grand time tasting and chatting with Caleb (Kaleb?), a most dapper and kind salesman if ever there was. I came home with out of this world Cherry Cola Gumdrops (a lot like gummies), Best of Oregon Caramels, and a chocolate bar with port wine in it. I love port wine!

To top it off, the hubster and I had dinner at Kelly’s Olympian, chockablock with neon!

A very fine day, indeed. Hoping the weekend is equally stellar for us all…

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