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Oliver WineryAt the close of a violent week, I’m sharing a pastoral scene from the grounds of Oliver Winery and Vineyard in southern Indiana, where I stopped for a soothing lakeside lunch two weekends ago. 

Like so many people, I’m deeply disturbed by a world where such carnage is a possible risk for people who are going about the business of ordinary life. I’m still sorting out how I feel. All I know is that I’m especially drawn to words, music, nature, rituals, and perhaps most of all, people who reflect the better side of humanity.

Social media darling of the week
From previous posts, ya’ll know how I feel about the negative effect social media is having on culture. What I haven’t said enough about are the people who use social media to uplift and inspire others to good works—people like my thoughtful friend Robert Smelser, who wrote this on his Facebook page earlier this week. 

Music as balm for the soul
When I’m down, nothing lifts my mood like music. If you’re in need of a similar boost, listen to Lisa and Naomi Diaz , two sisters whose music combines Afro-Cuban beats with electronic textures. Together they’re known as Ibeyi, and their new album is called Ash.

They created the song Away, Away “to make us feel better. We wanted to say something that would give joy to people. We needed that song to feel alive.” They’re young, but they already have old souls. Here’s what Lisa-Kainde Diaz said about the song on NPR: “What triggered Away, Away was that feeling of powerlessness, that feeling that you’re so small. And that’s true—we’re all small, but doing something is valuable.”

Already, they are using everything in life—the pain and the bitterness—to make gorgeous music. Take a listen and see if you think they accomplished their goal. You just don’t want to miss their NPR interview.

I am also completely wowed by a young artist who sings, records and shares all four parts of acapella hymns. They are so wonderfully comforting that I often find myself listening to them over and over again. He’s the nephew of a good friend of mine and I do not know his full name. 

The comfort of sweet friends and rituals
October is the perfect time to host a tea party for people who bring you joy. Last weekend, I hosted the friends of a lifetime, Violet and Sharon. They’re my touchstones to a world I DO recognize and DO want to participate in—kind, smart and eager to protect all that is good and right with the world. Normally, we go out, but this year, I hosted at home, and I’m so glad I did. It was much more relaxing and surprisingly easy, with very little fuss involved. Our annual tea party is a treasure of friendship.

Here was our sandwich menu:
Cucumber, cream cheese and fresh sage
Cream cheese, olives and pecans
Chicken salad
Curried egg salad

For sweets, I made pumpkin bread with cranberries and walnuts, and awesome brownies from a recipe shared by my niece-in-law. For variety, I threw in store-bought mini-cheesecakes.

I’m drinking two new blends made by my favorite local tea vendor, Nelson’s Tea. If you’re one of those people who are mad about pumpkin spice lattes, try Pumpkin Time blend, a black tea laced with all the spices in pumpkin pie. 

They also have a delicious new blend that benefits Pink Ribbon Connection, my favorite local charity because it helps people who are working their way through a breast cancer diagnosis. Raspberries and Cream is a green tea with dried raspberries, raspberry leaf, safflower and rose petals. Nelson’s Tea will be giving free tastes next weekend at Stars of Pink, PRC’s annual fundraiser and fashion show, featuring breast cancer survivors as models.

If want to lend support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, buy some tea. Or if you’re the kind of person who writes notes, buy the notecards inspired by my favorite vintage sweater. All proceeds from my cards go straight to Pink Ribbon Connection. If you’re going to the fashion show, I’ll be selling cards that morning, and I’ll see you there.

Here’s the backstory of the pink sweater project, jointly coordinated by Jody DeFord and I, along with several local fashion bloggers. This video was made with help from my friend Rachel Palmer. I especially love it because it reprises my mom’s starring role.

I am unable to view the scenes revealed through video footage of Las Vegas, but I believe this is a time to explore the possible underlying causes for such violence–not all of which have to do with the availability of guns. Whether you did or didn’t view those scenes, take care of yourself and those around you. This coming week, don’t forget what my friend Robert said up top. And what Frida Kahlo said below.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.