Ciao'd after collecting acorns

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I'm not going to get philosophical about the state of the weather and the temperature of our nation. Instead, I'll celebrate the season. From crimson in the trees to crispness in the wind, autumn ignites the natural world. This season of tailgate picnics and leaves crackling underfoot urges us to recognize time's ephemeral quality and to treasure each moment. Let's indulge in an idyll with our senses each brisk and startling day. No need to make a Herculean effort. Just be open. Here are a few ideas.

Pick apples.
Gather colorful leaves.
Carve a jack o' lantern.
Meander down a country lane.
Make cinnamon toast.
Stack firewood.
Crack walnuts.
Peel a tangerine.
Listen to the wind.
Sip mulled cider.
Root for your favorite football team.
Inhale the aroma of an apple crisp.
Give thanks.

The twine candleholders in the photo are a simple expression of autumn's earthiness. Utilitarian as twine may be, it's quite interesting to look at, too. Collect balls of twine in various sizes and insert dripless candles in the hole in the center of each. Group together on your dining table or line up along your fireplace mantle. 

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Ciao'd after setting out sunflower seeds for the winter birds. Welcome home. 



I live on the corner of persnickety and passionate. Sometimes I step off the curb into the universe of me. I am no longer young and malleable, though I try to remain open-minded. Age may be a bias but it allows the privilege and pleasure of making declarations and pronouncements.

I have a political hangover (don’t we all?). The events of the last week put into perspective the small things in life that ultimately define a life. I can’t control the zeitgeist but I can revel in my little world. The good looms large above it. The ridiculous ripples through it. So, yeah, I thought what the hell? Let’s let go of what the future may portend globally and stroll through the universe of me. Namely, a litany of my pet peeves and a symphony of my passions.  Something tells me you'll relate to at least a few. First, the peeves (even the word is annoying).

People who turn without using their turn signal. You are so lucky you haven’t been rear-ended. By me. On purpose. 

When people say “on accident.” It’s “by accident.” Take note Chance and Reyn.

Cold soup when it is supposed to be hot soup. If I can make this happen in my home kitchen, why can’t you restaurant people deliver it, too?

My husband’s bare feet touching mine. No further comment.

People who park in handicapped spots when they are clearly not handicapped, except by their sense of entitlement.

People who enter a store and then stop in front of the door. Especially the boneheads who do this while on their cell phones. I'm guessing these are the same people who phone it in crosswalks and on busy sidewalks, too. Forget Smartphone. This is Dumbphone at its finest. 

“Gluten-free” with no medical justification for the claim. Novak Djokovic gets a pass because he rocks. 

“Reply all.” Don’t.

Cyclists who hog the road by riding two or three or four across. And pretending they don’t see me riding their asses.

Fellow power yoga people who not only shower sweat but smell, too. Men, I am talking to you.

Okay, so. While  I could go on (and on) with the peeves, let's tack to the bright buoys. Like these:

The words “whisper,” ‘prairie,” and “lagniappe.”

The fat red squirrel who visits every morning. His name is Hilary. As in the Everest climber.

People over the age of 75. They are fonts of wisdom.

Sunlight illuminating stained glass windows in an old church.

Mary Oliver. Her poems. She is a national treasure.

The scent of tennis balls newly sprung from the can. Please let one be my lucky ball. 

The random souls who smile back when I smile at them. Love and kindness.

Parmesan, prosciutto and sparkling wine. Together.

My son’s laugh.

My husband’s patience.

Life teeters on the cusp of good and bad, happy and sad, hope and despair. I’m lucky to be a glass-half-full denizen of our crazy world. Except when I’m not.

We need beauty to nourish our souls. Whether we read a poem, contemplate art, ingest a child’s smile, or notice the sun rising, these perfections inspire us. They calm us. They save us from the insanity.

So here, the simplest, beautiful decoration for celebrating the season and punctuating the Thanksgiving table. You were wondering what to do with those pumpkins that still lurk on your porch, right? Well, here you go.  Laugh at the peeves. Give thanks for the passions.


Pumpkins (and squashes, too) come in all sizes, so they're perfect for stacking into a sculptural centerpiece for the table. Let your imagination guide you. If you like, include winter squashes and root vegetables, too. Be sure the top pumpkin has its stem intact. 

Here's how:

Arrange the pumpkins on a platter or cake stand with the biggest one on the bottom and the smallest on the top. Tuck autumn leaves or ivy, if you wish, around the base of the pumpkin sculpture and around the pumpkins in the sculpture, too.  Gorgeous!


Somebody once told me that regret is a wasted emotion. It was most likely a therapist, back in the day when I believed I could be something I am not. While regret has guppied through my head and heart more than I would care to admit, it does have a pale sunny side, too. Regret is a reminder to embrace the present. And Autumn wants nothing to do with regret.

So, let's embrace the present. Let’s peer out the kitchen window through the morning mist.  Let’s consider the leaf riding the window wiper on our commute. Let’s bake an Apple-Rosemary Crostata...

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