Monday, October 1

for the freer ladies

He listens. And when I said once it would be my dream to have a stack of Georgia O'Keeffe books, that's exactly what I came home to after having to work on a Saturday feeling shriveled, weak, and frustrated from exhaustion.


The next day I sat and layed on the front porch, reading from C.S. Merrill's Weekend with O'Keeffe, her diary from spending time at her Abiqui house. She says, "I do this recording of the meeting out of responsibility to women in the future who must know what a strong, great lady Miss O'Keeffe is...rather out of affection for the freer ladies of the future who may need a toughening influence from this great lady." Well, thank you C.S Merrill, for understanding we all need to know how and why. I'm going to learn a lot from them both. Already, I have an idea to replicate a wooden table she describes in detail, one that O'Keeffe designed herself and made in New York to haul to New Mexico. I will dry orange blossoms for tea and really look at things. I want to underline every sentence ( but I can't because these are all from the library, one day they will be mine, one day).


If you wanted to see some of the most beautiful photographs of a woman in solitude, her dogs and her desert, look up John Loengard's book. This will keep me going all fall.

I still can not believe I was in the same place, if only for a week, a very long deep week, with the same place she grew her vegetables, sat up on the roof, painted for 12 hour days, took 2 mile walks everyday, rearranged rocks and hardly saw with her eyes but painted everything.

Monday, September 3

Las Dos Brujas and The Peach

7am walk

7am walk

endless inpsiration

 I've been waiting to write about this experience since I came back in June. It needed time to bubble and boil, months later, end of summer, it's ready.

I had an impromptu but very telling energy reading early in the year and one of the many very true things she revealed was a peach colored propeller. I kept seeing it in my mind, wondering what it meant and the only conclusion I had was New Mexico, a place I had never been and never before made plans to go to. It was all kinds of weird for a non-plane traveler. I prefer hours-away kind of trips that don't involve getting on a plane, so any traveling plans usually stay within the California coast. Why would I be going to New Mexico?

Since I declared that this year I would focus on my writing, I decided it was finally time to apply to VONA in Berkeley, but when I found out it was the same week as a work conference and I knew I wouldn't even have the chance to apply I called upon my friend/ get myself out as a writer mentor and asked if she knew of anything else happening this year. She told me about Las Dos Brujas in New Mexico and I knew it was all coming together, it's worth a shot, maybe this is the peach. I applied the next day and found a very welcoming email from Cristina Garcia herself weeks later with the good news that I got in.

I was scared to go because I hadn't been on a plane by myself since the anxiety and a week in a new place without knowing a soul was hard to believe, not to mention taking a whole week off from work. But you know how I feel about a good anxiety challenge. I meditated, bought a new Moleskine, made sure lavender oils, good luck monitos, copal, calming quotes, and good music were packed, and I was off.

Originally I signed up for the memoir workshop with Denise Chavez because of something else that was revealed in the reading. If my nana had recipes for us, I would write about them. But it didn't feel right, those are mostly my dad's stories, and this was my week, so I wanted to focus on poetry. Juan Felipe Herrera it was.

Juan Felipe Herrera in action, super taco-ing it up

On the first evening after dinner we met with our groups informally. Juan Felipe called us out to the field of grass, we stood in a circle and stretched, did whatever we wanted to with our bodies and took in this amazing beauty and time we just landed in. We were laughing right away and I felt as calm as I ever had with the mesas as our full backdrop, the night coming in. Then we said our names and one thing about what we just did. What came out turned out to be our line for the next day, he was already giving us an assignment without us knowing. The mesas are cut with lines and color, that's what I was looking at and so I said, "I'm drawn to the lines."

we made books

moon over morning

I could go day by day but I mostly want to describe what can happen when a group of people who write and care about things in this particular way get together to share everything about ourselves. We stretched every morning with Juan Felipe, he made us laugh for hours while we sat in what he dubbed the Adobe Dojo. He reminded us this wasn't the workshop before the workshop, this was the workshop, that the real work is in these moments.  We never once edited any of each other's poems. We wrote, we read, we listened, we clapped, we cried, we wrote, we got assignments, we played with language we don't usually use, we read Mayan incantations, we all wrote about the mesas, the cottonwood, what we didn't know we loved, moon over morning, blips. I learned about the different ways you can be a writer, because I was feeling less-than as I was maybe the only one without an

out the dojo

We all found a very special and important friend and mentor in Juan Felipe. At the end of his craft talk I cried, a lot, and couldn't stop for an hour after. He told stories about his life: receiving one of the first EOP scholarships, at UCLA, hippy writer, traveling to Mexico, bringing back danzantes (what?!), what his mom told him as he read her a poem as she was dying. Something stirred. I see a lot of my dad in him, born in the same year, similar struggles, both respect women in a rare way. And there he was with the cottonwood blowing in circles behind him through the windows as the sun set over the mesas, glowing. It was too much. I went back to the library to sit alone and write about permiso, an assignment he gave me the day before. What do we get permission for in our lives and who gives it to us, why do we need it? It ended up being about my nana, the new stories of how Gedney came to be Mexican, the histories and voices of my family. Ay! When he says things like, "all I had was a super enchilada" that silly phrase can bring you to tears. He means all he had was his family, how he grew up, that love and not love, and even that alone can keep you going, even that can award you as the first Chicano Poet Laureate of California. Big news, a big soul with a big heart who writes in a big notebook in big spaces. He doesn't carry a lot of rules and I tried not to either for that week and still now, when I can get a glimpse back into that freedom.

cottonwood everywhere

the library

One day at lunch we got on the topic of dancing and learned that at least three of us in the group practice different types of dancing. So he asked us to all three give a little lesson during class the next day. I taught the Permiso Danza Azteca, Xochitl taught a Folklorico step and Sandra taught Puerto Rican Bomba. And then we wrote about all three dances. Beyond appreciating that he takes cues from his students to bring what they can to the group, this was improv. As a teacher, improv is hard, but if you trust yourself and your students, this is what happens. And then he took it to the next level and suggested we do a reading bomb at lunch and perform while everyone was eating. After some nervous planning, we did it. Mixing writing, music, dance and improv was exhilarating, fresh, and weird.

I thank him for teaching us all of that. I never knew I loved no rules or stretching to mesas.

A big part of the week were the other teachers: Chris Abani, Denise Chavez, Kimiko Hahn, and Cristina Garcia, the mastermind herself responsible for creating this new workshop and inviting master teachers who are both genius and kind. Even though we didn't sit in class with them, the whole week was about learning from everyone. Chris Abani gave the introduction to Cristina and teared up because he loves her so much, she is that amazing of a friend and this was that special of a place because of her spirit and friendship and dedication to writing and giving. One of the first things out of Denise Chavez's mouth during her craft talk was, "forget that chingadera!" Yes! She speaks and writes how we talk at home, free and understanding that the voices of the past are important to say out loud. She is a master storyteller, gripping you with laughter and tears. I told her about my indecision about wanting to take her class too. She ended up sending her class materials with her sister to give to me.

what I wrote

what she painted

I took 7am walks in Abiqui/ 6am in LA ( didn't realize the time different until I face timed Jorge at day 3). The reception was very spotty, which was nice, to be totally free of internet for a week. Did yoga twice and only once traveled out of Ghost Ranch to sit on slabs of rock at Lake Abiqui while staring at Cerro Pedernal, something you've probably seen in a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. Ghost Ranch is where O'Keeffe lived and painted most of her life, alone in a house far away from the main buildings on the ranch. We took the tour and learned about her life and ways and then pictured her climbing on her roof at night to paint and listen. Like she was drawn to Pedernal, so was I. It's in your view every time you look out the window, it becomes part of your vision.

in her front yard

after dinner

room upgrade

adobe dojo hood

read to tears, happy after

The peach propeller took me to New Mexico, but it also opened up a part of me and a part of the writing world that I didn't have access to before. It doesn't have to be hard. It can be fun, freeing, and more beautiful than you knew existed, the most delicious super taco you will ever eat.

We work with sparks, not fuel that's on fire.
I want my students to leave with who they are, with their totality in their writing.

Healing is learning to live with damage and not inflict damage.
The ways in which we choose fear over love.
- Chris Abani

Why not see the soul for what it is, an addiction to human remains.- Kimiko Hahn

What is voice but breath.
It was in the looking back that one got lost.
-Denise Chavez

Pedernal from the lake

Saturday, August 25

Yosemite Rainbows

One car left from SF, the other from LA and for a couple of days we lived together next to the Merced River, hiking, biking, eating, and drinking. I never knew I loved running under waterfalls or riding next to Half Dome.



top ten lifetime bikerides



More than a year later finally seeing this film developed, I gasped and shrieked because I couldn't believe how perfect these captured the feelings of the trip.

After dinner one night we took the Yosemite bus to The Ahwahnee to get a drink. I have memories of being little, looking out the window from that hotel to deer in snow, my dad reading from Native American creation myths at night, eating Easy Cheese on Triscuits. And now I'll remember ordering Oprah's signature Yosemite's Moscow Mule and sitting in one of the library rooms admiring the wallpaper, running back to the bus to catch the last ride back to camp.

Saturday, August 18

Summer Smoothie


Sure, putting fruit and other usual smoothie ingredients into a blender seems easy, but sometimes they come out just ehhhh, tongue sticking out in disappointment kind of reaction. And breakfast gets me through my morning emails, so it has to be something special. I want to share the most flavorful mix of ingredients I've yet to find since we were gifted the powerful almighty Vitamix.

Make it while we still have summer. This has made my mornings so much brighter, cuz the banana smoothie rut was getting sad. And, none of these things require a beast of a blender, any type will probably work. Trust me, I used to roll my eyes and never look at food blogs again once they whipped around the Vitamix as a necessary part of the recipe. Don't look away just yet.

one nectarine
one peach
one plum
frozen blueberries
1.5 cups soy milk
1/3 cup greek yogurt ( depends on how much protein you're trying to get)
2 tablespoons ground flax
as much honey as your little heart desires
      -makes enough for three

Thursday, August 16


Ever since I moved back to Downey, I am borderline obnoxiously interested in things like its big front yards, an orange tree left on most properties, the farmers market expanding to Downey Ave with new vendors like Hodo Soy from Oakland selling amazing tofu eggless salad, poetry nights with a mostly over 70 crowd, the mural on the old Avenue movie theatre, bands of stray cats in driveways, the closeness to several different river beds and bike paths, reading The Patriot every Friday after work (and occasionally writing for it too- teenage dream come true!), yoga with J.R. who looks like an older Randy Quaid at the tiny gym, The Winning Image ( isn't that name pretty awesome?).

If I had stayed here, I know I would hate all of this, probably think it's too small town, and not appreciate any of its charm, but after being in crowded cities, never having my own space to think, or breathe, or even quiet to sleep well at night, I'm in love.

Working in LA, I get the question all the time and it's like defending LA the whole time I lived in San Francisco. At least here there is no hatred or disgust, but I know that people don't really get it. I have to explain it's really not that far away, 12 miles, it's peaceful and we have so        much        space. I like jogging on weekend mornings and seeing Furman Park crowded ( I usually run into my mom there too and give her a high five as we cross paths), passing the Carpenter's apartment buildings never gets old, the old lady who rides her bike with a little pomeranian in the basket ( I say hi to her, she ignores me, but it's ok). Natureway is still a really good natural health store and now we're even getting an art gallery. There's also a winebar that you can pretend I own, Mari's. Things are growing here and I want to be a part of it.

Echo Park all day, Downey at night. It suits me for now. It's also practice in appreciating something that isn't what everyone else is into or where everyone else is being cool and doing cool things ( this is where my fomo creeps in).

I'm not in the thick of it, and that's ok.

Sisters exploring on a Saturday

Tuesday, August 14

garden update

Our garden is getting serious and so are we. And, again, let me clarify that when I say our garden I really mean the one Jorge tends to and takes care of with a whole lot of patience and curiosity. He takes me on garden tours every morning so I can see the progress and we talk about what we can make with what's available. That's the deal: he grows, I cook. And then I can say our garden without letting on that I'm actually too lazy and careless when it comes to figuring things out.

This became cilantro and basil pesto and pickled jalapenos.
I adapted this recipe from Adrienne Eats and it became more like tapenade because we were a little low on basil. Maybe even better than the pesto version.

1/3 c walnuts
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp miso
juice of 1 lemon
2 T  oil

several good runs in the Vitamix

Green beans, hardboiled eggs, and kalamata olives turned out to be the best summer meal so far.

Jorge's dad has fruit trees and patches of herbs and vegetables all over his back yard in Fontana. Now that we're getting more interested in growing and using food in different ways, we're finding out that in Mexico he used to can tomatoes in Coke bottles and make jam in bags. Essentially, it's in his blood. So at the beginning of summer J brought home bags of apricots from his dad's tree and we gave our first try at jam. It turned out more like fruit leather, probably because we stirred it for too long, me with the oven mitt on, standing as far away as possible from the bubbly concoction, stirring like a witch over her cauldron, saying it's ready, I think we're done, him saying, no the recipe says 30 minutes, me getting more and more tired, then switching and the same thing happening. We laughed a lot and came away with bigger biceps, but can only give away this first batch to people who really love us and will eat it even if it is super thick.

Yes, I may just be getting around to writing about it now that school started and I'm already planning work stuff for the fall, but here it is, the garden in all it's heat and glory.

Saturday, August 11

Palomar Mountain


If you live in or near LA, Palomar Mountain is both an easy weekend or day trip that makes you feel like you made it to a little island in the sky, full of meadows, forests, a lake, and fresh air. Like most of my adventures, I found out about Palomar from a Sunset magazine issue, my guide to life, basically. Heading south on the 5, you hit Oceanside and go straight up to the mountains, a slightly winding road, but nothing a pillow over the eyes can't get you through. If you arrive early enough you can still catch breakfast at Mother's Kitchen, vegetarian sausage patties, a patio in the woods, and lots of fresh baked goods.


 Palomar Observatory is where it gets kind of weird, because there are big blobs of white sturdy science just peeking out over the hills. It seems kind of alien in a very beautiful way. The details of the building, old marble bathrooms, sketches and typography from the past, the tour by the old man, the really strong winds.



During my first visit to Palomar, I very boldly announced that it was better than Yosemite. After visiting Yosemite shortly after that statement, I wouldn't say it's completely true, the views are not as obviously spectacular, but there is something even more important about going on a hike and feeling like you're the only person in the world. Sometimes enjoying nature in silence is worth more than the most majestic mountains. And it gets even better when you go with good friends, telling stories and laughing through all the tall grass and night stars. We made it to the little beach of rock slab at the end of the hike and dipped our legs in the creek. That moment stays with me.


rosemary from South Gate

We took cues from Carlos, our last camping chef, and made a Mexican, Peruvian, and English meal over the campfire.

size small Pendleton from a Downey yard sale

Singing at our highest pitch to Joni Mitchell, making our way back into town for more ice and beer, we passed a big white horse and a barn sale where we bought Skyfire Ranch soap from a woman who wore white clips in her hair, a fire opal necklace, held her own sheep's wool in her hand and told us about the origin of the word spinster.

And then Jorge caught me in my natural state: weekend red lips, hair down, just after running through a field.

natural state

Tuesday, August 7

Weekend Babes

Gabby is a babe in many senses of the word. She is a hard working social worker by day, and a major LA babe by evening and weekend. Here is her new blog featuring her adventures in style and travel. She is also an LA native who moved to SF but found her way back to the sun. We did our share of looking out the window to rolling fog or trying hard to enjoy picnics at Dolores Park only to be frozen over by the wind, so it's our time to take back the summer.

Early this summer we had a day around town hoping to visit the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, but we got there to empty rooms and closed doors. So, instead, we took photos of our celebratory summer outfits against the beautiful architecture. 



Sunday, July 22

a reader

 In my head, I'm all sorts of things: brave, loud whenever I want to be, always knowing the right thing to say, and when practicing reading my poetry, it's perfect with hand gestures and confidence. And then there's the moments between those thoughts and what actually comes out.

At today's reading, my first feature, I will let go of all that holds me back. Part of that is drawing on the women before me and their voices, work, and sometimes, nakedness.

Saturday, July 14


Trying to make the most of our orange tree that grows and gives year-round. Experimented with fresh oj and gin, no good. But picking bags full, making a mess in the kitchen with the small juicing diamond we have ( what's the real word for that little glass thing?), and having a pitcher of fresh juice for breakfast is a perfect weekend treat.



Gravy agrees.