Archive for the ‘Stories from the Rose Cottage’ Category

Deodorant for Love Cats

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Dr.-Zhivago-ice-palace-interior-VarykinoTwo movies and one great book have come to mind as we’ve been coping with this Polar Vortex; the first is Dr. Zhivago and the scene where he and Lara and have sought temporary safety in an ice castle. With starving wolves howling in the frozen landscape, and the Bolsheviks on their heels, we know the lovers will not have a happy ending. Okay? My sisters have always accused me of being too dramatic; but really this record-breaking cold is scary as the snug little cottage we call home and work has begun to flutter and dim and buzz and melt and worry us.

Normally a nifty space heater warms this charming work station. Oh well.

Normally a nifty space heater warms this charming work station. Oh well.

The electrician due to arrive early today has succumbed to sickness and truly the roads aren’t safe yet – so our electric healing has been postponed for one more day. But while we wait and try not to worry, especially about Annie who is sleeping in a room where she can see her breath and ice has formed on the inside of the walls, we remain busy and that keeps us warmer. Annie claims to have slept well and proceeded early this morning to head to the basement where she worked wrapped in a blanket held on with an apron. Her night cap is cashmere and her work cap is polar fleece and we think she rocks both looks. But back to the movies.


Today, for the three of us, was transformational as we abandoned chilling thoughts of Dr. Zhivago and embraced a full-on George Bailey moment here at the cottage. You know the scene – George has come back from the edge of darkness and despair, and been eharry bailey toastmbraced and saved from ruin by the loving members of his community. His brother Harry, the war hero, sweeps in, and proposes a toast to his big brother George, the richest man in town.  Today, that’s what we feel like – the richest gals in town. And that transformation is because of all of you and the support you are showering us with, even as I write you now.


Your response to our SOS has been overwhelming and we are deeply touched and very grateful. We worked last night until 1 am processing the orders and letters of encouragement that arrived from all over the world – and that despite our still very sporadic internet connection. You’ve offered us your warm winter homes, your sunny vacation condos, your internet, and your good old-fashioned willingness to lend a hand. We’d tried hard to be ready for the cold snap; but when our dear neighbor and loyal customer Sam offered to help in any way he could, Clare accepted.

“I hate to ask in this terrible cold, but if you’re out running errands, could you please drop off some toilet paper?” she asked. Because for real, that humble but critical purchase had fallen off the shopping list.

killer_app_cover-664x1024Yes, you’ve restored our faith in our own wonderful life and in so doing you’ve brought to mind a lesson from one of our all-time favorite business classics – Tim Sanders’ LOVE IS THE KILLER APP. If you haven’t read it yet, treat yourself. You don’t have to be involved in business for his message to resonate. Sanders’ small and beautiful little book asserts that in business, as in the rest of life, it’s love that makes the world go ’round. Sanders calls the folks that understand that truth, and practice it in their lives, love cats.

We’re in the process here at the cottage of updating our website and we’ve been toying with new tag lines. My current favorite is THE DEODORANT OF THE FUTURE IS AVAILABLE TODAY.  But after this latest episode in the lives of the Deodorant Sisters of Beverly Hills, I think a more appropriate slogan might be:


Because we clearly do.

I remain hopeful that over the next few days our shared life will return to normal. My morning ritual of turning on the space heater that sits beside my favorite chair, in an always drafty corner of the living room, will be restored. The Chicago Tribune will resume normal delivery. I’ll be able to draw enough electricity to make my morning coffee. I’ll sit and sip my hot coffee and read all about how my fellow Chicagoans survived the Polar Vortex. And I’ll be remembering how all of you helped us to survive it, as well. I’ll be warm, my coffee will be hot – and oh Lord, I better check to make sure Sam has fulfilled on his promise.


We’ll keep you posted as our situation clarifies.


Until then, from the bottom of our very warm hearts, we thank you.


Mary and the Sisters

Mary Duggan

About the author: Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters, creators of lifestinks® natural deodorant that actually works and lifestings® DEET-free bug repellent. 

Spend a few minutes exploring and experience the Sisters’ spirited approach to wellness; discover their award-winning natural products; and read their stories of victory against the odds. They make lifestinks is their home and HQ in Beverly Hills, Chicago.  Connect with the Duggan Sisters today!

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Remembering Owasippe

Friday, June 30th, 2017


by Mary Duggan


I’ve been thinking lately about boy scouts; or should I say I’ve been reminiscing lately about boy scouts. A few weeks ago, while attending an event at a local church, I stumbled into a small room designated for boy scout meetings. It was banged up and dingy in the way you’d expect the scouting room to be. And there on the wall was a photo of Chief Owasippe admonishing scouts to join him at summer camp in Wisconsin.
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Politically so very incorrect. But what a memory!

Owasippe? I hadn’t heard that word in decades. Owasippe. That mysterious, magical summer place that drew in my brothers each summer. Boom. I was a grade schooler again, helping my mother prepare 4 of my 6 brothers for their summer boy scout camp experience. Mom and I sewed on endless pieces of cotton tape with the name Duggan printed on it; carefully stitching our family name inside dozens of briefs, cotton jammies, tube socks and swim trunks. As the years passed, the stitch on tape became iron-on tape, and then finally Magic Marker written directly onto waistbands.


Ruthie’s Favorite Words

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

by Mary Duggan

ruthie mary annie kitchen

Annie and I were crying through tears as this picture was taken. Our final moments with Ruthie in her kitchen, moments before her move to Florida.

If you’ve been following along with the story behind our little business for awhile now, then you probably remember reading about our dear friend and neighbor, Ruth McNeill-Opyt.

We grew up in a big old corner farmhouse on one end of a long block in a tree-lined historic district on the South Side of Chicago. Ruthie lived in her tidy little dollhouse Georgian at the other end of that same long street. The very street where we, as sisters, still live and work to this day. Ruthie raised her 3 children at one end of the block; our mom raised her eleven at the other end. And while their lives did not cross often, they both held each other in very high esteem. Ruthie, a Protestant, used to say that she upheld one end of the block while our mother, a Catholic, upheld the other. Each of them referenced the other as always waving and having such a wonderful smile as they zipped past each other in cars filled with kids. A passing that lasted for decades.

When Clare was a little girl, she used to stop at Ruthie’s (more…)

Remember, Write, Release

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

by Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

The blogging police always recommend a limit of 700, or so, words. A few weeks back I sat down to capture a simple story – intending it to be part-three of a triptych of stories about me, mom and baby sitting – the formative endeavors and experiences of my entrepreneurial youth. I knew I would be hard-pressed to come in anywhere near 700. I never ever come close. But I never expected some 10,000 words!

A simple story that I had long wanted to share proved to be a little richer and more finely layered than I ever imagined. Door upon door opened. Windows were thrown wide with gauzy curtains flapping and gathering dirt and dust. I awoke each morning exhausted from the memories streaming and screaming all night long. Everywhere I turned there was a drawer opening itself in front of me, doink-ing me in the shin and demanding to be sorted through. I spent days in my pajamas, oblivious to the come outside and play summer finally unfolding around me. What is happening here, I implored my sister as she plowed through a first draft of 3,000 words? I am not sure this story will be of interest to anyone. It’s too simple. No one will care. I care, she said, because she is an extraordinary sister. Forget the word count, just tell the story.

mary freshman longwd

I remember 14-year old me.

And so I followed the crumbs. Some 10,000 words later I experienced a fatigue so profound that I could feel my brain shutting down for repairs. And again a reminder from my sisters. This cleanse we are pursuing so diligently this summer is not just the release of physical toxins. It must be a spiritual and emotional cleanse, as well. I am still not sure about the long and leisurely telling of this story.  But it has gotten itself told. As stories are so often prone to do. Fingers crossed that it gets itself read, as well.

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.


About the author: Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

The Mary Kays: Part Five – Fallen Heroes

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Thanks to a rented power boat provided by my Uncle Les, I had become quite a skilled and daring water skier during our family summer vacations at Powers Lake, Wisconsin. But snow skiing was something else altogether – more terrifying and definitely requiring a social skill set for navigating the lodge that I did not possess. My mother’s cousin, Donna, lent me the proper clothing and Dick and Mary Kay popped for skis and lift fees and everything else I might need. I had taken preparatory classes at the local park district – so I essentially knew how to slow down on the bunny hill. Other than that I was clueless. But Dick and Mary Kay were good for their word and I never had to lift a finger during our one week ski trip. I was not there as the baby sitter – though I felt more than a twinge of guilt as I watched the ski patrol load a small boy in really bad shape onto a stretcher to carry him off the slope and realized it was Dickie! (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part Four – Bears, Musky and Moose, Oh My!

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Mary Kay entered my world in the Fall of eighth grade, when she pulled her VW bug into our driveway seeking boys to plant bulbs at her brand new complex of condos. My mother assigned my brothers to this one-time task; while I quickly became a regular fixture in the Carlson household. By the summer after eighth grade I had become so helpful to Mary Kay that she approached my mother with a plan for me to join in on the Carlson extended family vacation in the North Woods of Wisconsin. For those two weeks in late August I was to be essentially an au pair, assisting with anything and everything required for a fun family get-together at their cabin in the Chequamegon National Forest just outside Hayward, Wisconsin. More precisely in a custom-designed A-frame cabin perched on a steep hillside overlooking Moose Lake, a 1700 acre water confluence of the Chippewa, Moose and Little Moose Rivers. Yep, Musky country. (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part Three – Shalimar

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Did Mary Kay have a clue how much she meant to me? I guess I will never know. Did she sense that things were sad and confusing at home and that her beautiful happy condo provided not only pocket money but a needed break, as well? I suppose it doesn’t matter in the long run. What matters is that when I really needed a break, she provided one. When I really needed someone to notice me and appreciate me, she did. And when she really needed a young assistant, I stepped in to her life.

And so I did her hair, as needed. I baby sat, as needed. I took her kids to the movies because she just could not stand kids movies. I didn’t much like them either; but for Mary Kay I would do whatever task was needed.  And with each encounter I learned more and more. (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part Two – Curl Up and Dye

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun


By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

From the vantage point of age sixty, I look back on the summers Mary Kay figured so prominently in my world and I have to marvel. I have met so many interesting people in those years from 16 to 60. I  have worked at more jobs and careers than I like to admit and been shaped and inspired by too many bosses and co-workers. I have lived all over the U.S and traveled all over the world. But my memories of Mary Kay have never dimmed and her importance in my life has never diminished or been taken over by anyone else. I know now that when you are so young and the world is such a terrifying and exciting unknown a person who has gone before and successfully navigated change and is willing to share and open a window into the future for you is a gift. I treasure my simple memories of Mary Kay and wonder if she had any idea what a Godsend she was for me. (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part One – Land Of The Midnight Sun

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Two-name names were popular when I was a kid growing up in the 60s. My mom named me Mary Catherine for all the usual reasons: Mary, she explained, I hope your life will be inspired by St. Catherine of Sienna, the great Saint, who was a Doctor of the Church and a leader of men and a great writer. Really, she said that to me and I was like maybe eight years old. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it; though decades later I found a book about St. Catherine of Sienna in a hotel in Assisi and I did find it so interesting that when I was leaving and hadn’t finished it yet I took it and put it in my purse. Which my sister and traveling companion, Annie, reminded me was stealing though it didn’t feel like it at the time; maybe because I was trying to learn about the path to sainthood, after all. (more…)

I’m A Babysitter, Not An Exorcist!

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

My Mom had a genius for friendship. She gathered her life long friends, from her childhood summers on a farm in Missouri to her pinnacle life experience as a day hopper at Rosary College. She kept them close, never seemed to lose one to quarrel or misunderstanding, and presented each of them to us as a unique exemplar of womanhood. She admired their height, their sense of style, their choice of spouse, their brilliant careers and of course, their children. Her friends were second string aunties for us and their children more like cousins. She filled our lives with her wonderful friends and expanded our sense of ourselves and our definition of family in doing so. She even loved the friends of her friends – and that is where this story originated.

When friends of our “Aunt” Catherine got a job transfer that predicated a move into our neighborhood, Mom welcomed them warmly, doing everything in her power to ease their adjustment. She assured them that they would be deliriously happy on Seeley Avenue, one of the oldest, loveliest, friendliest, and most historic streets in all of Beverly.  And when their Beverly experience proved to be something other than what everyone had predicted, she was there for them then, as well. Meaning she had a new assignment for me as her go-to girl for Moms needing assistance – in this case a babysitter with that extra something. (more…)