Hurricane Matthew – Cuba


You probably haven’t heard about the destruction that Hurricane Matthew had on Cuba’s Eastern province of Guantanamo (called Oriente in pre-Castro Cuba).

Despite the renewed relations between Cuba and the U.S. – only Haiti exists as a Caribbean nation worthy of reporting. Maybe because there are already media embedded in Haiti – knowing that at any moment some crisis will occur.IMG_4906_2

Back in January 2010, I was in the northeasternmost town of Cuba, Baracoa, when the deadly earthquake hit Haiti. There was no destruction in Cuba, but my mother and I got to experience a tsunami warning Cuban-style (I write about that in a book I’m writing, stay tuned).

This is the place where my mother is from. This is the place I got to visit and fall in love with back in 2010. This is a place where the people are resilient and the natural beauty off the charts. It is a place that gets hit with hurricanes.


Thanks to this article by Miami Herald reporter Mimi Whitefield, on the website, we now know the devastation to a part of the island I would call home if circumstances were different.

From a distance, I can only send good thoughts and look for an organization that is accepting donations for Cuba. This article is a great start (thank you Casey Suglia of #BaracoaEstamosContigo

I hope you can help too.


Pause, Regroup, Go

The pause happened before my 45th birthday last year.

Field trip to Bandelier National Monument.

Field trip to Bandelier National Monument when I was only 43.

Thoughts started badgering me:

What am I doing with my life?

Is this where I want to be?

What have I accomplished?

Is this all there is for me?

I’m almost dead!

My older friends laughed  and called me “youngster” and “silly.”

But I know this restlessness.

I get restless when I need change – not want – but need. For me change is not only an opportunity for growth, it is growth.

The first time I felt this need I was about 12 or 13. I had fallen in love with San Francisco while visiting relatives. Chicago wasn’t my #1 city anymore. I was in love with the Mediterranean climate, the friendly people and the food. Unfortunately, due to my age and other factors, the move wouldn’t happen until I was 21.

City by the Bay

After a few months working at a biotech company, I applied and got accepted to graduate school in the Monterey Bay area just south of SF. I was following my dream of becoming a marine biologist – inspired by Jacques Cousteau.

California was wonderful, I didn’t want to move, but as my graduate career was ending, jobs were hard to find and the techies from Silicon Valley were beginning to make the Monterey Bay area too expensive to live. Through some connections I learned there may be jobs in Seattle – so, at age 25, I moved out of necessity – which is a different kind of need than restlessness.

City by the Sound.

I rolled into Seattle on July 1st, 1996 (yes 20 years ago today!). Life would be good for awhile – but restlessness found me 6 years later, when I was 31. It was a moment in my life where I felt everything stagnated: bought first home, married first guy and got my first permanent job, by age 30.

I lived in the suburbs of Seattle. It felt sterile, isolated, and unfriendly. The marriage began to remind me of my parents marriage.  In short no bueno. I knew there was more to life than what I had and I got out.

While the marriage was ending, I moved from the suburbs of Seattle into the city. A place where I could walk to cafes, to grocery stores and to a beautiful urban park with a lake, trees, and an occasional bald eagle. I felt more comfortable in the city – it reminded me of my city-kid roots.

When I feel restless my first reaction is to runaway and this one was no different.

I wanted to give up:

Everything I was doing

Everything I had accomplished

I wanted to:



Leave without a trace…

But that wouldn’t be responsible, it would be a short-lived happiness followed by extreme anxiety.

Third birthday of author...

Third birthday of author…

I needed to regroup, reevaluate, and reassess, my restlessness. I needed to ground my thoughts, take several deep breathes because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t let down my younger self, and give up on her dreams and aspirations. But what had I not accomplished?

I achieved my goal of moving to Cali and becoming a marine biologist. I spent time at sea studying fishes in Alaska. I now have a great job, I own a house in the city and I have a terrific fiancé.

So what am I to blame this bout of restlessness on?

I look to astrology for answers (cuz sometimes it helps.).  I am a Sagittarrian and Sagittarians are described as travelers, philosophers, and adaptable. In short, I needed a change of scenery, more education and transition my avocation to a vocation.

For education I decided to GO back to school in a discipline complimentary to science, art. My medium is writing and on many levels I have always known I was a writer and have written in some capacity since I was a teenager. For the last 4+ years it has been my avocation. I have taken several writing classes, but they left me wanting more. Finally, I applied to a Masters of Fine Arts program – got in – and hope to graduate with an MFA in creative writing (focus on nonfiction) in 2018.

I’m working on a change of scenery – to a place my younger self wanted to live thanks to a TV show with a hot guy driving a red Ferrari – so I’ll write about it if it happens.

I embraced my feeling of restlessness. I worked to fully understand where they were coming from and I am making changes.  Life feels more fulfilling and I feel less old.

Wedding in Scotland

Why am I getting married in Scotland?


The farm

I fell in love with an American man whose heritage takes him back to Scotland on both sides of his family. Three generations ago, in the mid-1800s, his mom’s grandfather immigrated from the Orkney Islands to Canada. His dad’s Scottish heritage is a bit murky. All we know is that they came to the U.S. through Ireland before the revolutionary war and ended up in Kentucky.

In 2013, we planned a trip to Scotland to search for the family farm on the Orkney Island of Rousey. Through sideways rain we explored ruins ranging from 5,000 to 100 years old. And, with the help of a local, we found the family farm. The place where generations of his family lived. The trip was blessed by the discovery of a third cousin, whom we bumped into at a local artist coop.

When my love proposed to me atop the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, I had no clue where we would get married. Not in Seattle, where we both live, it doesn’t feel like home. Not in Chicago, where I was born, my roots never did go very deep there. And not in Southern California where he was from, let’s just say there are better places for my wedding.

Since leaving Scotland after our brief visit in 2013, I have always wanted to go back. Tears well in my eyes as I recall how touched my love was when viewing his family’s farm. He walked the green slopes overlooking the North Sea in silence, as if communing with his ancestors, thanking them for their sacrifices and gifts. I witnessed a man reconnecting with a heritage he barely knew. A connection that was lost over 100 years ago. I bore witness to a person awakening to the history of his people within his self. It was a very intimate moment.


Skara Brae

I fell in love with the mystique of the Orkney Islands. This land where Picts, Norse and other people came in search of a new life. To survive despite the harsh climate and rocky shores, they plowed the shallow dirt and somehow fed for generations. Of course some left under unsure circumstances and others left to find a new life in another new world that offered more opportunity and freedoms. I’m sure those who left, did so with heavy hearts because the Orkney Islands beckon you to stay, like the song of the sirens, with her beauty and her secrets.

I am not discounting my heritage with the decision to wed in Scotland. My heritage is skin deep. Both my parents immigrated to the U.S. and I have visited both countries of their birth. Although I continue to explore how I am influenced by my heritage, it is different than discovering it for the first time. My heritage has never been forgotten. Although I love both countries of my heritage, Germany and Cuba, neither of those places have mesmerized me, captured me and beckoned me back like Scotland.

Ok, well one country does, Cuba, but it would actually be a lot more difficult to get married there. Perhaps the honeymoon?



Instead, my spirit desires to be wed in a land of fairy tales, castles and 4,000+ year old historic sites.

I hope to share my journey as I figure out how to plan a wedding from 4,300 miles away.

How Cuba is using capitalism to save socialism

Lovely series from Quartz.


This is the second in a series of four dispatches this week on the US-Cuba opening. Read the first here

HAVANA, CUBA—If you are fantasizing about your first trip to Cuba, that fantasy presumably includes cruising down the Malecón, Havana’s seaside promenade, in an open-topped 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air, with the tropical light playing over the decrepit buildings and the warm sea breeze tickling your scalp. Cigars are probably involved, and rum.

The rum and cigars are produced by state-managed Cuban enterprises. But who is maintaining the classic cars? In many cases, not the Cuban government, but self-employed entrepreneurs.

Allowing limited private enterprise within its socialist economy was how Cuba weathered the collapse of the Soviet Union while still under the US embargo. And now that Cuba-US relations are warming, that nascent private sector is proving a surprisingly fertile common ground for the two governments—albeit for rather different motives.

For Havana, liberalization holds the promise of an economy strong enough to protect the foundation of Cuban socialism—state-run health…

View original post 1,240 more words

Post Writers Conference Therapy

Diagnosis – Writers Conference Fatigue

Contagion – Attending Chuckanut Writers Conference


My first public reading.

Therapy – Exercise creativity through medium other than writing

Chosen therapy – Cook dinner

Find ingredients in the house, use creatively.

In freezer find main ingredient – Wild boar ravioli (plin) – bought at farmer’s market too long ago to remember (< six months ago).


Garden – find fresh herbs, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Pantry – find two cans of chopped tomatoes

Kitchen counter – find head of garlic and onion

Proceed to chop ingredients

IMG_5925Sweat onions and garlic


Add rest of ingredients

IMG_5926Add salt, and pepper then stir, simmer for magical amount of time.

Use immersion blender to create saucy sauce.


Boil frozen plin, then plate. Garnish with sprig of rosemary and slice of olive bread.

Post writers conference dinner. Books from local Seattle authors, Elissa Washuta, Erik Larson, Stephanie Gallos and Carol Cassella. Wine from Woodward Canyon - Walla Walla Washington.

Post writers conference dinner. Books from local Seattle authors, Elissa Washuta, Erik Larson, Stephanie Gallos and Carol Cassella. Wine from Woodward Canyon – Walla Walla Washington.

Note: The Chuckanut Writers Conference was an amazing experience. The faculty list was A plus list. I’m so happy to live in such a creatively rich place like the Pacific NW. Cheers! (With a bottle of Woodward Canyon 2013 Dolcetto)

When I was a basketball player…

My basketball team was a spectrum of skin pigmentation. What does it feel like to be multicultural? What does it feel like to be aware of diversity? All of us know – but are we courageous enough to live like we know…

The skinny and the fat

My height is an aspect about my physical appearance that I just can’t hide.

I really can’t hide.

Me, trying to make a lay up... Me, trying to make a lay up…

Not in a crowd, not in the subway, or the supermarket, nope I stick out. The only place I have traveled where I felt short was in the Netherlands. Everyone there, women included, were tall! Even the friend I was with made a comment about how I had “found my tribe.” The only problem was they were all blond haired and blue eyed and spoke a language I don’t think I could ever understand. They were not my tribe.

The places I have visited where I feel most tribal, like Peru, Bolivia, Cuba or Mexico, I don’t look like them. My 6-foot, olive skin, light brown hair and eyes, just don’t allow me to fit in. The looks I got when I spoke Spanish in…

View original post 473 more words