weaving, woven



I woke up this morning in Edmonds, opened the blind over the huge picture window at the head of the bed and on the side I was sleeping appeared a dangling spider. I looked more closely as clearly it was swaying from side to side and not attached to the window, to see it was situated firmly in the center of about a 24 inch perfectly woven web.

My husband who reads animal cards every single day sat right down, pulled and read the spider card for me and the words that stuck out were “create, create, create”.


Before noticing the spider – who remains right there, right over my pillow 10 hours later – my mind was filled with ideas as I woke up early to the sounds of train whistles, ferry horns and my husband’s sweet rhythmic breath of slumber.

I was thinking about this great life we’ve found ourselves smack dab in the middle of, seemingly out of nowhere. Yet just like that spider, we’ve been weaving it for years, decades even. Every time we held on to a wish, a feeling of deservingness against all odds, we were weaving.


Yesterday we had one of those days that while you’re in the middle of it, you know you will reflect on it for years to come as one of your best days ever.


It started out on the train–the Amtrak Empire Builder that we hopped on on it’s very last leg from Chicago to Seattle. It was just a 30 minute ride but truly spectacular. We sat in the upper level and felt like we glided on air along the Puget Sound coastline in our reclining comfortable leather seats side by side.


My husband is a total train nut so seeing him in his element was also a thrill for me. He has studied every aspect of trains all his life and is filled with minute details about the cars, engines, the rails themselves. He was like a kid in a candy store.


We landed in Seattle in to the most gorgeous train station I’ve ever seen, not that I’ve seen that many, but I had no idea a station existed as a living art form like this. We oohed and ahhed at the carved walls and ceilings and certainly noticed that we’d both landed on Track 5 to debark and were welcomed in to Door 5. Our 5’s just keep showing up over and over again. Like magical stepping stones.

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We embarked out on our day of exploring in Seattle with very little planned other than tickets to see the movie The Martian at the famous Cinerama movie theatre at 3:15. And our return trip on the train at 6:50.


We simply started walking, found a hat to replace the one my bald husband lost the day before on our way and meandered our way to Pike Place Market by 10:30. We decided to get a bite to eat at the well known Lowell’s cafe with it’s gorgeous 3 story views and landed at, you guessed it, a waterfront table. As we finished our breakfast the crowd kind of thinned and out came our travel chess set. John’s been teaching me chess this trip so we’ve been playing it on the go from the airplane to happy hour to coffee shops. Of course I lose every single time but that’s to be expected. At least I give him a run for his money and staved him off my King for over an hour one time. Psych vics he calls my psychological victories which are increasing my confidence.


We wound our way through the market then huffed up a STEEP hill to my favorite tiny coffee shop in Seattle, Moore’s. It’s my favorite because a. it’s out of the way b. I love this Cafe Madrid they serve there and c. they are famous for putting designs in the foam. I got the Madrid, John got hot chocolate and we sat on the tiny patio on the street, you guessed it, playing chess. I got my very first “Check!” during that game…SCORE!



From there we found our way to Cinerama, careful to be on time as last time we went we deedawdled drinking champagne in a nearby lounge and were half an hour late. The movie was really good and we had great seats where we could prop our feet on the railing in front of us. We sure love our movies. And the half regular half chocolate popcorn they uniquely offer there.


We had just about enough time afterward to quickly hoof it the mile and a half back to the Amtrak Station and got there just minutes before they started boarding the Cascade train back to Edmonds. Another fantastic ride but this time we got the sunset–spectacular seems too small a word for it. Gliding along like that taking in the scenery with our legs stretched out on one another’s laps like lazy dogs–heaven.


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It was just one of those days–one you will never forget. Only to be capped with one of our favorite dinners–the “nack paddler” (snack platter) of Washington cheeses, crackers, almonds, fruit and a delicious bottle of white wine from our Finger Lakes wine weekend he’d hauled all the way from PA. Everything with us is a celebration filled with fun and love and humor.



And we don’t seem to be slowing down at all–the opposite–we’re accelerating. And gliding on air.

I went from the most unlucky person in love I really knew to the luckiest.


All I can say right now about that is when your dream is standing before you, grab it and don’t look back or even sideways. Just grab it and leap.


Then you can look out and see the web that’s been woven all along, just waiting for you to take your rightful place at it’s very center, safe, supported and vibrantly alive.

Oh, and PS? We went and looked at a home here in Edmonds today that is very likely our dream home and on the way in saw two dangling spiders. Wish us luck on that lottery ticket we bought using the numbers from a card left behind for me in a fortune telling machine at the Market yesterday.

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writing again



Greetings from gorgeous Edmonds, WA where I attended the Write on the Sound conference again–this time with my husband.

Just wrote a blog about it over on Middle Child.

Feel free to take a gander here.

Life is good! :)


fifty seven



It’s that date again, Cindy’s birthday. Today she would have been fifty seven. I really wonder what the course of her life would have been had she not been taken from us twenty seven years ago.

I’m doing better today than I ever dreamed I would be all those years ago when her murder flattened me. I feel certain she’d be proud of me and happy for me now. It wasn’t easy getting here but I finally arrived in a life I deserved all along.

I wrote this piece a few years ago but share it every year on her birthday. As I’m out in the country at our rural PA house and can’t easily get to a store, I’m substituting Paleo Italian meatballs for my birthday dish this year. I think she’d be very happy with that.

Anyone who knew my sister, also knew she believed that anyone, or anything that was given a name also deserved a nickname.  There are friends from those years, that still call me “katiecoolady” not knowing I adopted her nickname for me years later as my online moniker.  It still makes me laugh that some of them never knew my actual name was Kathy.   This note is about a recipe that she nicknamed “Chicken Catch My Story”.

I was recently inspired by a food blogger who as a very recent young widow, asked for support from cyberspace by sending out a call, with a recipe, for people so inclined to make her husband’s favorite pie for someone they loved on a particular day as a global act of love.  I was out of town on that day but my friends generously allowed me to use their kitchen to make this “peanut butter pie for Mikey” and participate in this beautifully poignant effort.  It took off on a big scale and I read hundreds of posts by home and professional bakers sharing stories describing they supported this gal and her family in this sweet way.  Everyone got something out of it.  None of us escape this life without some connection to grief.

Although my sister has been gone nearly 23 years now, the grieving process is often tricky, circuitous, mysterious and at times enlightened.  I made a personal turning point this summer related to certain chains of events  where I finally, after all of these years, found a way to start asking for an absence to be filled with a presence  and in many conscious ways have started inviting my sister back in to my life.  The need for connection finally outweighed the pain of feeling only a void and she’s started coming back to me in some truly miraculous ways.  I guess it truly is never too late.

So this Friday, September 16 marks what would have been  Cindy’s 53rd birthday.  Food and cooking was always very important to Cindy (her Bachelor’s was in Nutrition).   I started thinking about what was one special dish that reminds me of her.  And it was totally clear–her chicken cacciatore that she always made for me on my birthday. 

I have been in possession of but not looked inside her recipe file box in all of these years.  I opened it last week and there it was, in her own handwriting–her Better Homes and Gardens recipe for “Chicken Cacciatora” although she nicknamed it “Chicken Catch My Story” which is always how she referred to it when she made it for me.

So this Friday I will be making her recipe and invite any of you so inclined to make it as well (if you find this recipe too basic, feel free to use one of your own).  And yes, she did always serve it with the “buttered egg noodles” just like BH and G suggested.  And often threw in some zuchinni.  She always used her well worn electric skillet.

To end I’d like to quote Annelle from Steel Magnolias:

“She will always be young. She will always be beautiful. And I personally feel much safer knowing she’s up there on my side.”

Happy Birthday Cindy.  I love you.

Here’s the recipe (copied exactly from her recipe card):

Chicken Cacciatora (Chicken Catch My Story)

1/4 c. olive oil

2 1/2 to 3 lb. chicken, cut up

2 med onions

2 cloves garlic

1 lb canned tomatoes

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1t salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/2 t. celery seed

1 t oregano

1/4 t. basil

1-2 bay leaves

1/2 c. cooking wine

opt. chopped veggies

1.  Heat oil in skillet, add chicken, brown slowly turning once.

2.  Remove chicken; cook onions and garlic in oil until tender.

3. Combine remaining ingredients except wine; add with chicken to oil.

4.  Cover and simmer 45 min.

5.  Add wine, cook uncovered 20 min.

Skim excess fat

Serve with buttered egg noodles

Happy Birthday Miss Cinnie. I will always love you.




how to surf a shame spiral


Hi y’all! Today the online magazine Elephant Journal published another piece of mine. I’ll share the first part of it here then click the link to continue reading. I hope you like it! After my summer hiatus of healing, I’ve begun writing again. :)


How to Surf a Shame Spiral

My husband and I fell into our own respective numbers games the other day.

When I say “game,” what I really mean to say is “cesspool.”

At least ours were right next to each other—double wide cesspools. We weren’t alone in our attempts to drown.

Mine involved taking a step I’d not taken in months. I don’t know what possessed me to attempt this unplanned risk, other than a small moment of cockiness that morning combined with a wave of curiosity.

I stepped on the scale.

It was not pretty, I’ll just leave it at that.

My husband also opened a world he’d been avoiding for less time but still avoiding nonetheless. He opened his online bank account.

Being the intuitive that he is, he knew immediately something was wrong with me.

“Oh I’m fine,” I replied covering up my rapidly swirling shame spiral.

My husband talks to himself during times of stress so his vortex was more visible, more unavoidable.

I knew something was wrong with him too.

Continue reading here….

Thanks for taking the time to read and hope you all are having a great summer!

Renaissance Husband



Greetings from Sedona where I remain receiving therapy at the Myofascial Release Clinic here. It has helped a great deal but that pesky rib is still healing and giving me off and on fits (pain).

Luckily as I spend most of my time horizontal and on my back, my crazy husband is not only taking great care of me (he extended this stay a week) but also providing first rate entertainment. 

In the upcoming videos, he had just assembled that fold out bed my dad bought and was, well, showing it off.  He also installed this beautiful chandelier for us. Gotta love a Renaissance Husband. The last 3 wks would have been interminably boring (and difficult) without him.



challenging times


Sad Teenage Girl

Just a quick note before we head back up to Sedona for more therapy. This has been, without a doubt, the most challenging week I’ve ever had on my body with a close second being a bout of pneumonia I had many years ago.

My husband John is taking such good care of me. I’ve not driven my car in over two weeks due to my injuries so he’s been hauling me to Dr. appts, X rays, the occasional movie. He’s been cooking for me, cleaning my house and doing all kinds of home repairs. But for me, mostly it’s been a lot of sleeping and resting and being in pain over here.

I have a rib fracture that went undiagnosed in the ER that is some kind of pain I tell ya. And then dealing with insurance companies etc and not being able to work. I’m really REALLY understanding the other side of the coin when it comes to the clients I’ve been treating for nearly 30 years.


Things will get better and for now a change of scenery will lift my mood I’m sure. It’s daunting when most of your pleasurable activities are taken off your table. Even reading is hard. I slept almost all day yesterday.

Anyway I’m in the thick of things and it will improve and if I wasn’t sure I married the right man (I never wasn’t sure but you know), I sure am now.

Be back when I can.


real (magic) estate



Although my normally magical life seems to have been disrupted by, well basically being run down by a car in a parking lot and healing from it, the sparkle I live with is still ever present among this temporary pain and halt I’ve been placed in to learn.

I’ll tell you a little story now that might make you remember there are other levels always happening and something beautiful always operating on our behalf in all circumstances.


Several years ago while my father was still living the RV lifestyle I convinced him to buy a place out here in AZ. He and John would come for Christmas and frankly it was too much for me to host them in my condo for long periods (I’m an introvert, remember?) and since I was the only homeowner in my whole family, I rather strongly convinced him to purchase something. He found a small condo about 3 minutes away from me which was in foreclosure and bought it during the downturn so for a great price. I spent quite a bit of time working with a contractor to get it remodeled (it needed a whole new kitchen), painted and move in ready.


Since I was the only one living here, my father asked me to help get it furnished and outfitted for his friend who wanted to come out in less than a month to visit. There wasn’t even a spoon in that house much less a chair or a towel. It was  a bare shell.

I broke down on the phone and told my Dad I had no time to run around and completely outfit his house for a friend to come visit. I was working full time, my health was in question (right when i was getting diagnosed with basically a non functioning thyroid) and I was already exhausted. It was not an easy conversation as I’m usually very high functioning and get most anything accomplished and I’d just handled the whole remodel project. But I was spent.


I stood out in front of my office in tears telling him I couldn’t do it–if he wanted his house set up, he needed to fly out and do it but I just couldn’t. Like many of you readers out there, setting boundaries is not easy but I was at the end of my rope to be able to do it, in tears.


Of course he told me to put it on the back burner and that was that. I had let him down, oh well, I had backed up myself.

Literally that very day I had a client come in who got on my table and asked me this question:

“Hey Kathy I have a situation and wonder what you would do. My daughter is selling the house in Sedona I sold her a few years ago and needs to get rid of everything. I know you buy stuff on Craigslist sometimes, would you do that? How would you go about it?”

“What is she selling?” I asked

“An entire two bedroom household of furniture and everything–I just hate to have to  move it all but we need to get it out within 3 weeks”.

“I’m going to buy it all from you, every last thing” I shocked her with my reply.


And that’s what we did. We arranged the U-haul–the daughter drove it down because she wanted to keep a few large items and move them, get this, half a mile from my Dad’s condo. They loaded it all up and we caravanned down with my friends from Sedona and in one morning and for $2000 I outfitted my Dad’s entire place from a BBQ grill, patio furniture, wastebaskets, beds, linens, dishes, pots and pans, you name it, an entire household.  Boom, done.  Oh and I gifted him my washer and dryer as I wanted a new one.

I was kind of annoyed as I still ended up managing it all as it ended up but still…this was a no brainer, a gift from God for all of us.


Now this brings me to the present time.

My father subsequently sold the RV and has started to relocate more permanently to AZ. As you know, about a year after purchasing that condo, we relocated my brother out here permanently so after living with me for a summer, he made that place his home. Perfect.

Right up to the point where they outgrew the perfection.


You see this place is 872 square feet, one tiny bathroom and no real dining area. The two of them have been living in there together now with their two cats, two litter boxes and you get the drift. Too many bodies, too little space.


An incident propelled me to initiate an intervention of sorts which was not fun or easy on any of us but it had to be done. I frankly didn’t feel it was a safe or healthy environment for either of them anymore so convinced my Dad to find something larger. And as long as we were considering moving, something in my complex only made sense.

I live in a lovely modest townhome community that is divided up in to what they call “hamlets”. They are basically squares of townhomes that open to a parking area in the center. It’s like a square culdesac. I have lived here for 14 years now and feel very safe and comfortable here. It just made sense to look for a place in here but now is a moment where real estate is moving FAST.


We knew we’d need a single story (mine is 2 floors), 3 bedroom, 2 bath unit for them. I always think an end unit is good for everyone’s privacy. My brother spends a lot of time on the patio and sometimes, well I’ll just say it, sometimes, as in often he talks out loud. Sometimes he sings. I’m concerned about my schizophrenic brother being disruptive and ostracized. So an end unit would be the preference.


We started just looking. Nothing available right then.

Ironically the same client who we bought all the furniture from, the one with the daughter, is a mortgage banker so knows real estate. I told her about this decision and she suggested I make a flyer and distribute it in the complex just putting out a feeler in case anyone was on the fence about a sale–ya know so they knew they had an immediate buyer.


So that’s what I did. I took my flyer to Staples and printed off 30 copies and asked my Dad and brother to go around taping them to people’s doors on the one story units.

The day I got the flyers to my Dad I went out with some friends for the evening. When I got home I went out to check my mail and stopped like I often do to pet Shayna, the dog who’s owner walks her in a totally supported wheeled walker as she has no more use of her arms and legs and barely her head now from a neurological disease. But she communicates and is the sweetest so I always stop to pet her and say hello. Shayna’s Mom April and another neighbor I’d not met yet were out chatting. I discovered that the dog owners know everything that’s going on in the complex. They have their own society.


We were chatting about this and that, who’d moved in, who’d left. They were so in the know I felt like I was in the Cool Girls Club. As I petted Shayna one last time and walked away I casually mentioned my flyer they might see and that we were looking for a place.


Well their heads did one of those quick jerks to the side in to each others’ knowing eyes like “omg did you just hear that?” and I knew something was up.

They went on to disclose a little secret to me–that Tom and Rita in the corner of the complex had just put money down on a new home in a retirement place on some kind of contingency basis for the sale of their END CORNER 3 bedroom 2 bath single story unit which had yet to go on the market.


“I bet if they knew you wanted it, they’d sell it to you immediately” they both said asking me to keep it on the downlow as they didn’t know who was supposed to know what. Rita and Tom have dogs too ya know, the dogwalkers have their own rules.

I devised a plan. To casually go over with my flyer and knock on their door to chat as I know them well instead of my Dad taping it on their door. Just open the door as they opened their door to me kind of thing.

And that day, the very day I was intending to do that exact thing when I got home, I ended up in the ER instead, plowed in to by that car.



The day after I was hit, after my friend Marianne spent the night and morning with me watching over me and bringing me breakfast in bed, I realized I hadn’t checked my mail in two days. I hobbled out in my pajamas and slippers to the community mail box and thought “oh hell, I’m halfway to their house and their cars are there, I’m just going over”.


Tom opened the door and although my Dad had the flyers I just told him I was putting out feelers for a unit like theirs to buy and that I’d seen a Uhaul in their vicinity the week before (which was true). Tom almost immediately burst in to tears, yelled “Rita, come here!” and invited me in (me and my leopard pajamas Marianne had picked out for me).


( posture on the inside)

They showed me around and first thing I saw were the tangerine walls thinking orange is my Dad’s favorite color. A big area for a dining table (they’ve been eating off their laps in the living room), a split floorplan with large bedrooms and two full baths –one with a sliding door to the patio for my brother. I knew it was their home and literally IN my hamlet and on the corner. The patio borders an alley, a parking lot and their neighbor’s shed. It’s almost completely free standing.


To make a long story short, my Dad made an offer on it 2 days later and bought it. They close July 8 I think. It never made it to the MLS officially. No one else ever looked at it. Tom and Rita’s move is now smooth as silk. My Dad didn’t even require an appraisal as I’d done the research and knew he was getting a good price. The inspection revealed minor things which will get fixed and next week Alfonse and I will commence shopping.


I am insisting on him getting a new proper bedroom set as, well, he doesn’t have one. I bought him a new Marilyn Monroe shower curtain (shhhh don’t tell) and we will go out in search of the new large round dining table he’s dreamed of. Even a spare room for guests now.

Alfonse’s bedroom is a beachy sea glass color about twice the size of what he has now with a custom walk in closet. I’ve been all about upgrading his life since I moved him out here and this is the next step.


And my dear brother, being himself, keeps saying to me “we will be so close now we can help you out more when you need it”.


I’ll put pics of course when I get them.


I bought my house the very first day i went out looking “kicking tires” my realtor said in 2001, we bought the Sedona house the same day, also not making it on the market yet but Alfonse seeing a sign in the distance and now this one. I made the flyers but didn’t even need to distribute them.

I think the Dalai Lama said it best:magichouse6

But the action doesn’t have to be the grandest, making a flyer with a prayer that never gets used, sometimes is enough.