It must just be one of those nights where the world is seeming especially bizarre. Not in a bad way, just in a “what on earth are we all doing on the small round sphere, spinning through space, being happy, feeling sad, getting old, making movies, fleeing war, dying from Ebola, falling in love, building houses, meeting friends for tea, becoming obsessed with TV shows on Netflix, carving pumpkins, dressing up, electing officials, winning baseball games, listening to music, writing stories, escaping volcanoes” kind of way.

Tonight as I watched the news, there were stories about Hawaiian volcanoes, solar flares disrupting Earth’s technological infrastructure, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the upcoming elections, and ongoing tensions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Jerusalem. The newscaster felt it necessary to remind his audience that certain things, like solar flares and lava, can not be controlled. I laughed. What can be? I couldn’t help but feel that it all seemed a bit unreal and I watched as if in a dream, thinking periodically, “wow, this is life.”

Outside it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, brisk turning to warm and back to brisk. As I contemplated upcoming work projects, story ideas, whether or not my plants need food, and what to make for dinner, others did the same. Watching the last episode of what surprisingly became my all time favorite TV show, (I thought I was too cool for teenagers, football, and Texas until “Friday Night Lights”), I cried and then simultaneously laughed at myself for crying. As I carved a pumpkin to match an emoticon, 😍, neighbors decorated their houses with cobwebs and skeletons.

And all I could think was, here we all are. What can be controlled? Our actions. Our thoughts (with practice). That’s about it. We do what we can, try to be happy, and let go of the rest. And periodically we come across places or projects or people that touch us in some way and help us make sense of the apparent random chaos. As I thought about it all, I kept coming back to the idea that it is, and we are, all simpler than we like to believe. Kindness, health, love, beauty, connection, food….

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There is no lovelier time than October in New Mexico. Really, October anywhere is pretty great, but it seems especially beautiful in the high desert.
As I put gluten free, pumpkin almond brownies in the oven, the doors are open, and the World Series is about to come on. It’s good to be home.

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GF Pumpkin Almond Brownies
Ingredients:
1C Almond butter, chunky
11/4 C pumpkin purée
2 eggs plus one yolk
1/3 C date syrup ( I sub agave nectar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 C chocolate chips
Directions:
Mix almond butter and pumpkin until smooth. Add rest of ingredients and mix. Pour into greased 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 -30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center, comes out clean. Cool all the way or even refrigerate.
Credited to McKenna Barlow

Looking around my house, it appears my trip has exploded all over everything. Two weeks of lived in clothing spill out of the hamper, a suitcase lies on the floor, unopened mail sits on the stairs, and my accumulated treasures and trinkets cover the kitchen table. Looking at the ticket stubs, receipts, and business cards collected, now sitting in a pile on the counter, I can’t help but think of the highlights; the best meals, funniest moments, and favorite sights.

Favorite Meals:
1. Pacci in Buti, Italy. Everything they make is amazing, but the black, squid ink pasta with cream, nuts and salmon is unbelievable.
2. Japanese fish and noodle soup, sitting at the counter of the Stedelijk Museum’s cafe in Amsterdam.
3. And everything at the Korean restaurant Yokiyo in Amsterdam’s red light district. Their miso poached pear with black sesame ice cream. Amazing.

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Favorite Activities:
1.Watching the Buti Warriors play a soccer game against main rivals.
2. A walk along the top of the wall in Lucca.
3. Canal tour through Amsterdam.
4. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
5. Wandering
6. Happy Hour cheese and wine, in NY, Amsterdam, and Italy.

Favorite Stores/Items:
1. White, leather side zip Turkish slippers from Nooosugar, in Amsterdam.
2. Soap from Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, in Florence.
3. Jewelry from ambrosiojewelry, on Bedford Street, in Brooklyn.

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Grrr, for some reason the following was omitted from my previous post and refuses to appear when I update, so here it is all alone.

…After leaving RP, I found myself along the East River where there was a food festival, then along Bedford Street where I had to buy a necklace of a tiny cast brass Singer sewing machine from a guy (ambrosiojewelry.com) selling brass and silver pieces, and finally at Brooklyn Industries they were giving away free mimosas (and it was 20% off), so I had to go in.

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Thank you, Brooklyn. Thank you for being the icing on my triple layer, cream cheese frosted, perfect for breakfast, or after dinner, cake of an adventure.

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After waking on my friend’s couch from a surprisingly good night of jet lagged sleep, I made my way to Civil Service Cafe for a truly hipster American breakfast of eggs, potatoes, steamed kale, and Earl Grey tea with my dear friend, RP. Over a shared almond croissant, we proceeded to come up with a plan for the next six months that had us both yelping with joy in the cafe. Let’s just say it involved bikes, flying boats, stories, and more shared croissants. All this and it wasn’t even 11 a.m yet.

Outside it was a beautiful, NY October day. Walking in the direction of Williamsburg, we stumbled upon an impeccably curated store, Joinery (263 South 1st St). It was full of beautiful clothing, shoes, objects, fragrances, and it was difficult to come away with wallet intact. I made it out for only $45, spent on a delicious rose/cedar scent by Olo. Not too bad considering the damage that could have been done.

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After leaving RP, I found myself along the East River where there was a food festival, then along Bedford Street where I had to buy a necklace of a tiny cast bronze Singer sewing machine from a guy (ambrosiojewelry.com) selling bronze and silver pieces, and finally at Brooklyn Industries they were giving away free mimosas (and it was 20% off), so I had to go in.

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Finally, after doing enough financial damage to bring my adventure from “under budget” to right “on budget”, it was time to make my way to JFK, with suitcase bulging.

Thank you, Brooklyn, for easing me back into the USA with such a delightful day.

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