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This. Is. Happening.

2017 January 19
by Rachel Turiel

So, it turns out that between making batches of deer tallow soap and trying to discern the needs, nvc-style, behind Rose’s fierce desire for the packets of hot chocolate at the Nordic Ski Center (despite the nice little travel mug of homemade hot chocolate in her backpack), I’ve been doing a little community organizing.

Poster may be hard to read, go to RESPOND website here

The over 60 crowd are calling it a Teach In, which works for me. There will be 9 different classes addressing social, environmental and economic justice and what we can do in our own communities to peacefully bring about change. And there are 4 movement classes to keep the emotions flowing and offer balance to all the big thinking.

This is an entirely grassroots, volunteer-powered event, from the teachers, organizers, the beautiful flyer made by gaiacreative, the website made by busy high school teacher Sara Price, the classrooms donated by Smiley studio-holders, flyer-hangers, the “room liaisons” who will be making the day smooth, and the hula flash mob performing in the Smiley Cafe at 10:10 and 4:10. Yes, hula flash mob.

My friend Kati is my event co-partner, and it’s all a little hilarious and odd because we’re both passionate about making our community a better place, and we both really like to stay home and read novels. Neither of us has any extra time, and we’re both managing this whole event with our dinosauric flip phones. We went to speak with the staff for our Colorado senators last week and her baby had a little poopy blow out in the middle of a very serious discussion on climate change; the next day I was photographed by one of our local papers wearing, whoops!, my $13.99 rubber boots. Which is to say, we’re keeping it real. (Article here, boots cropped).

Hope you can come to RESPOND on Saturday. It’s free and open to all. There will be an opportunity to make donations to Durango’s Planned Parenthood, Companeros, and The Rainbow Youth Center.

Here I am apparently talking about RESPOND in front of many, many fired up ladies and not spontaneously combusting, despite my fear of public speaking. Footnote: I told Melissa Stacy, who is standing next to me talking about the Standing on the Side of Love March, that if I don’t end up making any sounds, to just grab my poster and talk for me and make it all look normal.

Yes we can.

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The holidays, the real version

2017 January 5
by Rachel Turiel

This holiday season has unfurled a little like how I imagine those encounter groups went in the 1970s – everyone getting empowered to air their uncensored feelings. So much honesty! So much raw emotion! Dan and I have been standing by like volunteers on a 1-800 hotline, taking shifts, soothing and empathizing and being available to the young callers.

The kids felt some disappointment about our Christmas festivities. When Rose opened, as one of her bigger presents, a beautiful, pristine winter jacket and said with breathtaking diplomacy and politeness, “Oh. This is Iris’ old jacket,” I realized we had failed to provide a spangly, America-approved Christmas. When Col tore the wrapping off his most toy-like gift: a 1000 piece puzzle, you could almost hear the gong sounding in the distance.

This is no surprise really. In the hierarchy of my time and resources, shopping and holiday decorating thud right to the bottom. Also, not having grown up celebrating Christmas, I admit, I’m still a little unclear on the concept. Kids make a list of what they want and we provide? We skip the list, surprising them with the toy of their dreams? We buy a pile of stuff no one needs because a man with pioneering kindness was born?

Special holiday visitor.

Even if the next new shiny thingy isn’t cherished in our house, empathy is. And bless them, the kids know this. Once Col understood that he wasn’t going to hurt our feelings he told us about his jealousy imagining his friends’ big lego sets and electronic devices; he shared his embarrassment thinking about reuniting with his cronies and having little more to report in Christmas dividends than a puzzle, a game, and some long underwear.

Painful feelings need care. Being able to sit with discomfort rather than seek the quick fix of entertainment, sugar, or some temporary hit of pleasure is a skill I want my children to get really good at. So we model this for them, allowing expression without judgment, providing understanding for their positions, letting their unpleasant feelings dry on the line of our support and presence. Col noticed that with no balm other than empathy, his feelings began to transform.

First night of Hanukkah: a Mediterranean feast to honor my Spanish and Greek roots.

With empathy washing over the children’s brains, the encounter group switched to full blown gratitude. (And back to disappointment…and back again to gratitude, multiple times) Col burrowed in close for snuggles, announcing how much he loved us. Rose made me and Dan a spontaneous card listing nine things she appreciated about us, including “you are great at helping me and Col solve conflict,” “you play games, do puzzles and sword fight with us,” and “you guys save money for fun trips and cool adventures.”

My current most cherished possession.

Behind the attraction towards quick hits of happiness is the deeper human need to belong, to connect, to be seen and heard. Much of the rest of our holiday was spent satisfying these needs. We sat on the couch, the kids leaning into me like two protective bulwarks as I read the Hobbit. We spent six completely absorbed and giddy hours putting Col’s 1000 piece puzzle together. We celebrated Hanukkah in a frenzy of greased up latkes with dear friends. We sledded and made soap with deer tallow. We hosted gatherings of Col and Rose’s buddies at our house where we played board games, made art and food together.

Child powered greeting cards: take catalogues, magazines and coloring books, cardstock, glue sticks and scissors. 40 cards for $2.00

Jan 1st. Back to the festivities I can understand: roadkill, scrabble and coffee.

It is not my job to provide the next hit of short-lived happiness for my children, but it’s my great honor and privilege to attend to their needs for joy, belonging, community and connection.


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December everything

2016 December 19
by Rachel Turiel

The days have shrunk into these tiny blips that blur past while the dark time stretches on forever. Col and Rose start indoor soccer at 7:05 am, slamming the ball against our kitchen cabinets while I talk my nervous system down from the ledge. Give them ten hours of sleep and they rise like a sled dog team aching to run. Rose guards her goal in a velveteen ball gown (2nd costume change of the morning) and Col is in the same clothes he’s been wearing for the past century.

7:33: sword fights with pool noodles. 

Breakfast is elk sausage, winter squash and kale. So apparently is lunch. Entertainment is watching robins bobbing for crab apples. We fervently root for the red breasted birds, whose score is nab one, drop two.

Then we have a family pool to guess “When will the first magpies arrive for roadkill scraps on the shed roof?”  Rose wins with 7:48 am on the dot. And at 7:53 am the sun crawls over Raider Ridge. We watch the chickens run indignantly through the snow to the compost pile. This is all the big news.

Next, Col and Rose are on the couch wrestling, limbs and grunts flying. Then like a retreating tide, they funnel back into their shared room and crank the radio up to 11. They’ve found the teenager station and they love it with a ferocity that amuses and scares me. Nothing makes me feel more elderly than the thoughts I have trying to decipher lyrics of the latest pop phenomenon.

Greenhouse wealth

Dan has purchased 30 raw deer hides from a local processor (Dan’s work is either carpentry or hide tanning, depending on who’s asking) and left this text on my phone recently, driving home from a window-installation job, “Got a doe in the back of the car. Stopping for a few groceries. Home by 5pm.” You know, the usual. Yesterday he chased a rogue black dog for 5 blocks who had snuck into our yard and pilfered some scraps of that very doe. Dan’s pretty sure its the same dog who stole a whole buck hide from him several years ago. Which is to say, the war is on.

Board game side events.

Despite all the other things that lately seem like really big news, apparently Christmas is still happening. Though I’m still waiting for my kids to renounce all material goods for the sake of true happiness, Col caresses the Lego catalogue and Rose delivers soliloquies which start at 6am on why she’d love a particular new sweater she spied downtown.

“What if instead of that one sweater that you’ve seen, you could have three sweaters which would each be a surprise?” I ask her with thrift store stars in my eyes. She acquiesces with one caveat, “no yellow.”

Baby Therapy: cheap and highly effective:

Also cheap and highly effective: Dog Therapy! Especially when the dog will let you drape a pink bathrobe over her on a cold, snowy day.

The lipstick has something to do with the teenager station.

Besides indoor soccer, repetitive breakfasts, and teenage radio, we’re reading. I read Cannery Row for the first time and am still reeling over John Steinbeck’s literary genius. I read a lot of the funny parts to Col. The book is mostly about some hobos who want to throw a party for the town doctor. On page 31 is the most gorgeous and horrifying description of an anenome catching its prey.

The Meadow by James Galvin is another book without a ton of plot, but filled with characters who are so wedded to their land on the Colorado/Wyoming border, their lives are inextricable from it. I’ve loved this book all three times I’ve read it.

I’m reading The Hobbit to the kids and we are all loving it so much. I think we all feel a little like Bilbo Baggins right now, whisked off on this political journey, divesting from our corporate banks and trying to understand how to communicate with the trolls and orcs, when maybe part of us is wishing we could just stay home and watch the robins and magpies all day.

With Big Love to you all,



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nighttime parenting

2016 December 5
by Rachel Turiel


It is 2am. I am on the living room couch with Rosie, who ghosted up to my bedside whisper-whimpering, “My ankle hurts and I can’t sleep.”

I rub arnica salve into her right leg, this startlingly lanky appendage snaking across my lap. Even in the dark I can sense she is forlorn. “Do you feel that bump?” she asks, drawing the word “bump” into two of the saddest syllables ever uttered. “That’s where Col pushed me down,” she sniffs. I refrain from a lawyerly objection to this middle of the night testimony, although last I remember Rose was kicking up into vigorous handstands a millimeter from Col’s pillow-shielded face and everyone was shrieking with laughter.

“Oh honey,” I murmur, while trying to harness my mind back from the full catastrophe of nighttime parenting. Those irrepressibly sunny daytime hours shine light into the mysterious folds of my brain, illuminating the neural centers of rational thinking, hope, and solutions. You can practically see the mental window-washers, whistling while keeping the storefronts clean and clear. But at night, when unable to sleep, the wolf of anxiety howls inside my cramped mind and the thorns of my minuscule problems become deeply, painfully embedded.

I realize that this is exactly what’s happening with Rosie. She wakes at night, alone in the precarious dark, where stuffed animals shapeshift and the shadowy darkness presses in. It’s alarming to be wide awake in the long, lonely night when everyone else in the house is safely, obliviously cocooned in the balm of sleep. So she lowers her pajamaed feet down the ladder of her top bunk to find some reassurance and comfort.

“I feel that bump,” I tell Rosie, “It feels like a bruise is forming. I’m glad you woke me up. Getting this arnica on there will help.” She leans her pony-weight into me and maybe for the first time I understand the task of nighttime parenting. I don’t need to fix her ankle pain, or tummy ache or whatever the current 2am malady is. I just need to offer her comfort, reassurance, presence. She needs the soothing tones of a parent whispering that she is safe from whatever simmers in her own 9-year old mind alone in the flat, inky night.

I feel my own nervous system unclench and I sense Rosie relaxing too. I know that we will both be back asleep soon, and that a groggy day tomorrow isn’t a real problem. In fact, I feel strangely grateful to be here with her on our long-suffering couch in the darkened house, as if tonight the nighttime has activated not my usual neurotic murmurings but the pure sweetness of being able to comfort and reassure a child who won’t be a child forever.

She thanks me for the arnica rub and tells me that her ankle is feeling much better. I carry her back to bed, the solid heft of her like a hay bale with limbs. She’s almost asleep by the time I lay her back down.

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2016 November 23
by Rachel Turiel

Dear Ones,

It seems to be a time of accelerated, painful growth. Not like the growth that may or may not happen while sitting contemplatively on the beach in Kauai, but more like the growth that happens when you realize that you’ve been obliviously insulated by your own white, heterosexual privilege; or when trying to truly understand (rather than only rally against) some of the forces that create racism, sexism and mistrust of “the other.” As head of the Anti-Defamation league said in an interview yesterday, “This is a wake up call.”

thanksI am reading this. 


This helps too.

I’m finding more questions than answers. Like, how to listen even when someone’s words make you flinch. How to seek news from sources other than what you consider to be gospel (and then noticing the accelerated flinching this causes). How to act without contributing to the divide. How to hear the needs behind someone’s opinions, even those opinions launched like a smoking grenade into the crowded spaces of social media.

Let me know when you’ve got it figured out, ok?

Until then, we’re doing what we can. Like, hosting a community letter writing campaign so we can let our lawmakers know our values. Followed by some fierce potlucking and soccer.

We’re also engaging in the ever effective dog therapy, which may be the shortest, cheapest route to glimpses of inner peace.


Also, I cut Col’s hair, feel free to compliment him on it!

Yesterday we crammed our house with children, and I would have never known when Col and Rose were babies, that a houseful of sweet kids playing a ruthless game of Monopoly was all I ever wanted. Later, they played a round of Quiddler while drinking tea. Can we just skip the rebellion part of adolescence and stick with this track? I’ll provide the tea and boardgames.


Dan and I climbed up the shale hills behind our house to watch the spectacular moonrise, discussing how we wanted to devote part of the kids’ Christmas break to contributing to the well-being of others. And then we butchered a roadkill deer and traded half of it to a farmer for 20 pounds of onions. Which, I don’t know, somehow seems connected.


I would have loved Col’s new cartoon creation even if they were cigarettes, but thankfully, these are “crayon guys:” Mike and Bob.


Rose’s cartoon character is called a “twid.” The boy twids have two horns, the girls have bows and when Rosie casually announced that there is a third gender: unitwids, which have one horn, I wanted to leap into the openness of her mind while giving her a standing ovation. Instead I said, “Oh unitwids? With one horn? Cool.” Because this is the kind of thinking that is going to change our world.


Girl twid with unitwid friend.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I so hope you are gathering with people who contribute to your well being. Here’s a little something I wrote about gathering and thankfulness, two things which feel a little holy right now.

p.s. How’s your learning curve in this post-election season? Please do share.

p.p.s. If you subscribe to get e-mail notifications of new 6512 blog posts and haven’t been, things seem to have been a little wonked-up in that dept. My blog goddess Mary Beth is helping me work things out. We’re trying MailChimp as a new way to e-mail subscribers. If you were previously subscribed and are not getting new notifications, consider signing up on upper right. Right, Mary Beth?




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post election

2016 November 10
by Rachel Turiel

elecion2November bouquet

It’s the morning after the election and everything appears normal.

The magpies arrive at first light, skidding on our iced-over shed roof to nab the elk scraps that Dan routinely tosses up for them.

Rose has just saved up—through walking a sweet though curmudgeonly black Scottie who sighs in exasperation when she arrives to take him out—enough money to put a streak of purple dye in her hair and is kicking into victorious handstands.

Col is whistling while working on a lego biplane, taking breaks only to eat, calculate homeschool fractions, sleep, and “snugoo,” which is the enfolding of a small boy into the arms of a parent until his battery of nourishment is recharged.

And Dan is watching a YouTube video on how to reset a toilet on a new seal, and sidling up to me wondering what sort of compensation he might get for his work.


Late on Tuesday the four of us drove home from an election night event. Outside it was dark and cold; inside, quiet and sober. Unthinkable truths circulated like another presence in the car. The kids begged to know: Could it really true? Rosie, her 9-year old voice earnest and quavery, asked, “But will our neighborhood change?” Fair enough little one. This neighborhood is the beloved backdrop for all of Rosie’s community organizing, most of which occurs on the trampoline out front.

It’s a little like going through the five stages of grief: denial, dismay, horror, Halloween candy, beer.

And then, hugs. There’s been so much more hugging lately. I went to the Smiley Cafe yesterday (which is my fave, with their solar-powered espresso, gluten-free treats, community piano and dogs ambling through) and exchanged hugs that were a balm to my emotionally drained soul.

Extra big hugs to everyone who worked hard for this election. Our little 11-year friend Mariah spent days calling Democrats to make sure they knew the location of their polling place and were going to vote. She could have been at the mall obsessing over the size of her thighs, as the machine of advertising would hope, but she found something outside of herself to work for and is one of my true heroes. (And, can Rosie come over and apprentice with you, Mariah?) Another friend is organizing a women’s political action group, to meet in her living room. Everywhere, people are mobilizing, which is the fertility that arises from the composting of anger.

After the grief you remember how much you love this one wild and precious life. There’s so much we can do. We can empower ourselves by spreading joy and generosity, which really is code for boosting our own happiness quotient (which allows us to spread more joy and generosity, which…). We can foster dogs and snuggle cats at the humane society, in the room Rosie calls, “The Cateteria.” We can welcome someone to our Thanksgiving table even though his/her Facebook posts have given us a slight case of hives this past month.

We can notice that when we blame others we’re likely covering up our own pain which could use the light of illumination and care. We can listen to our children even if it seems they’re only talking about hair dye and legos, again, because feeling seen and heard is a basic human need.

We can take walks on the earth and notice that the oak trees and scrub jays have found a way to live harmoniously, reciprocally, neither taking nor giving too much, and we can celebrate that. We can pass out authentic gratitude to others like candy on Halloween. We can continue (or start) dedicating time to doing what we love, so that we’re refreshed and inspired enough to be a light for others. Like Dan, who told me that when the kids and I will be out on our own adventures this Sunday he’ll be “going straight hog wild on some stinky deer hides,” his eyes sparkling with excitement.

All the love,


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2016 October 28
by Rachel Turiel

There is reason for me to believe that the internet furies have relented (which is the best I can understand technical issues) and are now notifying e-mail subscribers of new posts, like this one, in which a foster dog has puppies and your intrepid narrator goes hunting.



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Loving (and living) the effort

2016 October 28
by Rachel Turiel

Goodness. Did I leave you hanging? Pregnant dogs, elk hunting and banned books?

The night before we left for hunting, after reading to the kids and turning off their light, I lifted Sunny out of Col’s bed and noticed a translucent sac bulging out of her. Holy Game On. It was like rewinding a movie – the lights flipped on, the kids jumped out of bed, and we all gathered on the couch in the living room whispering like a semi-deaf family, “HEY – WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?” as Sunny panted and heaved in the cave of her kennel.

The first baby was born immediately. Within minutes Sunny had vanished its amniotic sac, placenta and umbilical cord. “She’s stimulizing it!” Rosie cried proudly about how Sunny was scrubbing that white furry bean vigorously with her tongue. But that didn’t wake her baby up. It had been born dead.

By morning—after broken snatches of sleep, Dan and I meeting in the night-blackened living room with head lamps trying to make sense of things, Dan reporting groggily, “I removed the third puppy, around 1am, born dead,” and my hope sinking, noting, “the second baby hasn’t nursed yet and I’m worried,”—there were two living puppies, two dead puppies, and one yet to be born.

Four hours later, after a whirlwind of packing, decision-making, puppy-snuggling, puppy-fretting, vet-consulting, child-soothing and coffee-dosing, Dan and I drove into the mountains for our hunting trip, leaving Sunny in the care of Erin, who runs the rescue program from where Sunny came.

One of my favorite parts of hunting is walking up the steep road in the pre-dawn. The full moon shines a spotlight on the rock-jumbled path. The rifle doesn’t yet feel as heavy as it will become five hours later. I am filled with the irrepressible hope of a new day, of new effort, of new possibilities (and the fervent wish that someone would develop a bifurcated camelback, one side for water, one for coffee). The moon fades and for a brief moment the stars are thrown like glitter into the sky. Next, the sunrise pinks up the horizon, and it’s like every celestial being is contributing its particular sound to the canvas of the sky.

Then we’re at the top of the pass and the first light of morning pours over gulches and ridges and the view is terrifying and beautiful and everything becomes very real. Real, as in, I’m here to kill an elk, and part of me is horrified to do this, while another part of me is horrified not to.

Here is where I feel for Dan as my partner and coach. There must be a more uncomplicated, stalwart way to approach hunting. Last year I cried because I killed an elk and was heartbroken about duping this wild animal with our human cunning and high-powered weapon. This year I cried because I felt impotent pitted against the super-flexed senses of these same animals whose instincts—whose very existence—is inextricable from the steep gulches and high ridges they haunt. I will always just be a visitor.

From what we call “the phone booth”—where you can look down on town from 10,700 feet and ponder that while you’ve been following the musky scent of elk pee, the rest of your community is continuing on as per usual—I received texts letting me know that Sunny had lost all but one puppy, a boy who was nursing like it was his profession.

Life as per usual.

I didn’t kill an animal. I took the safety off the rifle twice. Once, hide and antlers tornadoed past my scope, my own heartbeat surging. The other time, the sun turned the perfect view of a broadside cow elk to a nebulous glare in my scope.

I was attached to the story that if you put in enough effort you will reach your goal, which is romantic, uplifting and makes for great motivational quotes. But between huffing up to the pass at first light and returning to camp empty-handed save for the cumbersome rifle, I learned something else.

I learned to love the effort, the setting out at dark, the composting of yesterday’s loss into today’s willingness, the outrageous plans we hatched to follow the elk there, the exertion of my own 44-year old body, the spying of coyotes and the sounds of owls, the quest itself.

Ghandi says “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not the attainment. Full victory is full effort.”


Our last morning’s breakfast, a leisurely feast, rather than the gulping of granola in the rushed dark.

There is the gift of meat, and there are other gifts, too. I got to spend three days walking on this wild earth focused on a quest so elemental, stripped of my usual human complexities. And as I packed up on the last morning, wishing I was hefting an elk leg on my back, I thought, “Well, there’s always next year.”


Beni is Sunny’s remaining puppy, which means blessed in French. The duo has been living with Erin, who runs the animal rescue program and stepped in graciously while we were hunting. They’re both doing fabulously.


All the love,


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Just a Song Before I Go

2016 October 13
by Rachel Turiel

I’m leaving for elk hunting tomorrow. It’s all still a little surreal, how my life has expanded to include stalking a large mammal with a firearm. Last weekend we went apple picking and then did a little shopping for the week. You know, toilet paper and copper bullets. For months I’ve been jogging, guzzling bone broth, target-shooting and reviewing lethal shot placements. And soon I’ll be in it, where all that prep is theoretical; where the aperture of my focus becomes exquisitely narrowed; where for five days everything that isn’t relevant to the hunt is suspended: the knocked up foster dog, the election, the children (whose schedule is a 4-page, multi-caregiver puzzle including daily single-serve yogurt, a concession which makes it all doable for Rosie. “It helps to have something to look forward to,” she explains).

earringsThe gorgeous elk-tooth earrings my friend Kristi made from the bull elk I shot last year.

It’s been a little nutty here as I dash around whipping up ubercaloric food, teaching creative writing to ten children out of my home, throwing down for a round of push-ups, and palpating the dog for contractions. Never one to quietly and unobtrusively stand by, Rosie’s need for connection ramps up in direct relationship to my busyness. She shadows me as I pull apple muffins out of the oven. “Last night at Col’s soccer practice when I scored a goal?” she begins, “the boys were all surprised because they under-doubted me.” She explains which parts of our 5 days away brings up the most nervousment and how she’d like Col’s bed to be no more than one foot away from hers on sleepovers. And then she kicks up into three handstands, whomps back down and reminds herself aloud that it’s normal for some puppies to die. This too, I tell myself, uncranking my shoulders. There is room for this too.


Shit’s getting real here on the maternity ward.

Sunny’s birthing tub has been installed in the living room. Rosie set it up with the thrift store blankets and waterproof bed liners that our mentor Erin brought over. Later when I climbed into Rosie’s top bunk to snuggle with her I noticed she had placed a waterproof bed liner in her own bed. Well that makes sense, I thought, being that she’s  not one to miss out on anything ever. Col’s been singing the Daft Punk song, Get Lucky with adapted lyrics: We’re up all night ’til the sun / We’re up all night to get some / We’re up all night for good fun / We’re up all night to get lucky HAVE PUPPIES!


The doula is in.

(If the puppy muffins come while we’re away, we have Kathryn, former garden apprentice and best housesitter in the universe, standing by).

Last week was Banned Books Week at the library and I picked up The Outsiders by  S.E. Hinton for Col and Rose, which I must have read 35 times when I was 13 years old. Reading it to them is like having my teenaged self momentarily intertwined with their emerging tween selves, all of us mired in the literary self-conscious angst of wanting to belong. The kids are loving it, partially because the characters drink endless Cokes, smoke a pack a day and eat chocolate cake for breakfast, which is as debaucherous a life as they can imagine, let alone the prevalent rumbles and switchblades.

Well here I go out into the (hopefully) elky woods, surrendering to the wild, unknowable elements. See you on the flip side.



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2016 October 12
by Rachel Turiel

Hi Everyone,

Last week I put up a new post which never went out to e-mail subscribers. Because I totally understand the medium upon which I work, I did a lot of technical troubleshooting, just decided to cross my fingers and repost.


Go here (last week’s post) to find out why there is an extremely pregnant dog living in our house, see if you can find the biblical verse applied to chard and kale, and read why I get so excited when Rose announces that she’s feeling jealous of a friend. And longtime readers, thank you for your kind and reassuring comments on that last post. My heart felt full of gratitude and connection hearing from you.



p.s. Stay tuned! Another post coming THIS WEEK. Like old times. :)


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