Big-Girl Pants and A Raincoat

It appears that ten years have gone by since May 2013 when I decided that what I really needed to do was to start a blog.   I was living in Washington State working in a WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) nutrition clinic, then.  I had a nutty, wonderful Italian husband.  I was trying to negotiate the disappointment of having had to leave Costa Rica, assuming I would never be back.

How things have changed.  What a blessing it is that we can look backward over our lives, but not forward.

I took a break from blogging.  For a few reasons that confuse even me.  One, the reason that isn’t confusing, is that I have 1.5 full time jobs, and literally finding the time and/or being able to stay awake when I sit down are real challenges.  The cooking business that my boyfriend Hernan and I have takes tons of time and energy, even when we aren’t in the kitchen.  The cooking is the easy part.  And actually the other two reasons I haven’t been blogging are tied to my parther in life and work.  First, he is a very private person.  And it’s hard to share about MY life, when “I” am so often “we.”  He doesn’t post anything personal on line, and gets highly annoyed with me for posting pictures of him.  Which I do anyway sometimes because I am sharing about ME which he is separate from, but also not.  And then—the part that kind of kills me—there are people in his life do not like me.  Not for something I’ve done or haven’t done, simply for existing.  And it’s kind of hard for me to correct that.  No use promising to do better or saying I won’t do it anymore.  I am, in fact, going to go right on being me no matter whether even I like it or not.  So that’s that.  Why feeling dislike coming at me from the world silences me is not something I have spent a lot of time analyzing, but maybe I should. I would be a terrible public figure.

Anyway, I’m here.  Wearing my big-girl pants and my raincoat that hopefully will keep out the Dislike even if some of it falls on me.  Ha.  If I don’t continue this blog, no one will, and really, someone should! 

Baby steps.  Baby truths.  Baby blog posts.

My 19 year old nephew is here staying with us for a few weeks.  In a few days, Hernan’s mother and daughters are coming to visit.  Lots of excitement surrounding that, and some nail biting.  Then in June, a childhood friend will come with her young adult daughter.  So it’s going to be a busy time.  And I will be doing part time office work for Stay in Tamarindo, and I will be doing full time booking/cooking/bookkeeping/marketing for our catering company Tamarindo Grill Master.  And I will be keeping house and trying to get 8 hours of sleep a night.  Hoping to surf once in a while and blog with some slim regularity.  That’s a lot of things.  We’ll see how I do.

Circle back.  Step forward.  Smile.  Everything is alright, or at least some things are. Most things. And it’s a beautiful day.

It’s Not You; It’s Me

It probably seems like I’ve stopped talking to myself.  For sure, I’ve stopped talking to you.  Don’t worry, I’m not mad.  It’s not you; it’s me.

Everything changed.  Sort of suddenly.  I have two jobs now.  Two?  I have like six jobs now.  And while I would not say that my creative life is suffering, I would say that my creativity is for sure being re-channeled at the moment. 

I used to wake up in the morning, feed the cats, either go surfing or write in my diary, listen to the birds, take a walk, ponder, float all around my interior and exterior spaces, then pedal off to work for a series of hours.  It was peaceful, sweet, maybe a little too easy, and very quiet.  A holding pattern, easy to hold.

And then, to make a long story short, everything changed.  Overnight.  Ok, not really, but we’ll go with that.  His name is Hernan. I first met him in a dream in February of 2020, and then in real life several months after.  We live together, play together, and work together.  And I have added, “Chef” to the list of titles by which I have been addressed in my life, whether I deserve them or not.

In the Beginning, we were trying to figure it all out, and my friend Kate, who is one of those friends you really need to listen to, said, “You guys should be chefs!  We’re desperate for chefs!  We need people to cook for people and you guys are the best cooks I know!”  She’s very enthusiastic, Kate is.  She doesn’t really cook, so I wasn’t sure how seriously to take her.  I mean she practically loses her mind in fits of joy over a bowl of boiled potatoes with olive oil and oregano.  But then again–those were some pretty good potatoes!

So we tried it.  We made a menu.  We took a reservation.  It was the beginning of November and we were so terrified.  We might have had to drink tequila shots to give ourselves the courage to walk out the door of our house on the first night and load our coolers into the taxi that would take us to our first gig.  We didn’t even have a car. 

Eight months later, we have a real website, a vehicle, a freezer, a second oven, and a second refrigerator, and are married to our calendar.  We are slammed.

I wake up, like always, at 6 in the morning.  But now the first thing I do is make whatever dessert we need for the evening.  Then Hernan and I sit over cups of coffee and make the shopping list for the night’s dinner.  He takes off in the car to make his rounds through the supermarkets, fish sellers, vegetable market, and the butcher shop.  I ride my bike to The Office because I’m too terrified to quit my office job even though I am dying a thousand deaths from exhaustion.  At The Office I do other people’s work and also some of my own, because it’s from The Office that our clients come.  Shortly after noon, I go home.  I add up the receipts from the morning, and email the clients to tell them how much the dinner will be.  I answer emails, record reservations, note deposits, coordinate the calendar, pay the bills, eat the lunch Hernan makes for us, and if I am lucky, maybe collapse for a short nap.  In the mid-afternoon, we pack up our coolers and boxes with everything we could possibly need to cook a meal for the evening.  Average group size is about 9.  We take showers, put on our green pants, white shirts, and black shoes, and haul all the stuff out to the truck.  Then we go cook.  Then we clean it all up.  Then we come home.  Then we haul everything back up the stairs and put it all away.  Then it is somewhere between 9 and 10 pm, usually, and we collapse into bed. 

This is why I have not been talking to you.  It’s why I am barely talking to myself.  But it’s all good.  Chapters. They aren’t all supposed to be the same, or there would be no book.  I could not ever have imagined any of this.  I can never imagine anything that actually happens–I’m used to it. 

And the next thing that might happen, is that I might start a cooking/food blog.  On the other website.   In case you want to see it, it’s .  Hernan is from Argentina and he can grill food like nobody else you’ve ever met.  At least that way I could share the day-to-day.  And help to build the business.  I miss blogging.  It’s fun for me.  But there’s not a lot of introspection going on these days. There’s a lot of chopping and stirring and trying to figure out weird fancy stoves in zillion dollar vacation rental homes.  Ha.

I still feed the cats.  Although, at this time, I only have one.  Some sad stories, there. 

I still surf.  Sometimes.  When there’s no dessert to make.  And the conditions are so perfect that I can choose more movement over precious rest. 

I still write.  Distractedly, while watching over the oven.  In the 2 minutes before I fall asleep.  Or the 5 minutes I’m alone in the house.  Or the 30 seconds between the time I sit down with a pen and the moment I remember something I absolutely had to do yesterday. 

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  Kate, ever wise, told me to knock it off with the desserts.  I love making desserts and the clients love eating them.  But nobody books us for the desserts, she pointed out.  They book us for the grilling Hernan does.  So if the meal doesn’t end with the best Tres Leches they’ve ever eaten in their lives, they’re going to be just as happy.  And I can feed the cats again in the morning, either go surfing or write in my diary, listen to the birds, take a walk, ponder, float all around my interior and exterior spaces, then pedal off to work for a series of hours.  It’s going to be wonderful. 

And I’ll keep you posted if I start the other blog.


You’re right.  I’ve been talking to myself only, and leaving the rest of the world out of it. Why? There are reasons. It’s both simple and complicated.


The truth is, I’ve been self-censoring.  Unfortunately, that probably won’t stop any time soon.  I feel that being quiet (even though it’s not easy for me) may be the best choice. This is because my point of view and deeply-held personal opinions regarding many world events and situations are “controversial” at best.  And yet I am not interested in arguing or evangelizing.  Maintaining my relationships is more important to me than diffusing my opinions.  So here I am in the jungle quietly watching the circus that is the rest of the world.  Lots of dancing elephants, tame tigers, and not-so-funny clowns from this perspective, let me tell you.  

Respectful Discretion

And then there are other things that I wish I could tell about or show pictures of, but I can’t.  It isn’t time yet.  Not that I’m keeping secrets–if you get off a bus in my town you’ll see for yourself–but new elements of my personal life have specifically requested to be absent from “social media” and such like.  I think it’s safe to say, though, that there’s a lot more love and laughter in my days than there has been for many years.  A lot more joy, a lot more work, a lot more disorder in the house.  A lot more happiness.  Attached to all of these good things are some painful processes–a thing none of us escapes in life–which deserve my respectful discretion. This, in actuality, translates into…silence.  Pictures of food and cats.


The cup is full.
The hours are full.
There is a job to be held, and a new second job that involves cooking in the houses of people on vacation.  It’s so much work and so much fun and my partner in the venture is my favorite person to be with. There is surfing and there are friends and there are short nights and long days and FINALLY there is a car!  A truck, actually, so there are weekends or at least Sundays at beaches with surf boards and cold fizzy beverages and no phones. 


I feel like a have an acute understanding of how delicate everything is:
Peace of mind

If you sat very still and a beautiful butterfly landed on your hand, what would you do?  What would you say?  If you’re smart, you would do absolutely nothing.  You would say absolutely nothing.  You would sit very still and be amazed by the beautiful butterfly on your hand.

That’s exactly what I’m doing at this time.


Gingerly as Cats

I turned around and there you were
walking across the reef toward me,
remember that?
I couldn’t believe my eyes

what sense guided you directly to me
in the dusk?

we sat here
as the tide turned
and came closer
you smiled at how surprised
I was but
you could always find me
even in the dark.
I put my new sunglasses on the rock beside me
and forgot them
they’ll wash up somewhere
maybe you will find them

I come here a lot now
to this spot
with the secret bench
on the sea side of
the rocky point
you can barely see from the sand

later, we picked our way back
across the reef without falling
gingerly as cats
in the moonless dark
you’d think it couldn’t be done but
you and I have senses
other people don’t

Writing About Surfing

A Picture of Wind

I wish I could write about surfing.  I love it so much.  It creates the shape of my life. 

It’s easy to talk about a surf session, a break, a particular wave, or a board with other surfers, but writing about surfing is very hard.  It’s like trying to paint a picture of wind or describe love.  There are things that, when you wrap them in a blanket of words, they stop being what they are.  I can describe to you a picture of surfing, but how can I tell you what surfing is like?  It is motion.  It is pain and delight and infinite patience.  It is “stop” perfectly braided with “go.”

Can you tell me how to ride a bicycle?  Explain it to me.  What you say will not at all describe the actual experience of riding.  It is a thing you know in your body, not in your mind.

Heavenly Bodies

Surfing begins in the sky, with heavenly bodies—the sun, the moon, maybe even the stars.  The gravitational forces of the sun and the moon pull on Earth’s water, making bulges the planet spins through.  And then there are the storms.  Warm and cold air swirl in the sky.  Storms form over the ocean and, like kiddos jumping on the bed, cause the surface to bounce up and down.   These disturbances travel over thousands of miles of open ocean exactly the same way ripples radiate outward from the point a pebble tossed hits the water.  They arrive at the coast as sets of waves.

We wait for them.  It’s all very predictable.

A multitude of variables are constantly changing.

The Conditions

There’s not much to say when you write or talk about surfing except to describe the conditions.  The swell direction—as in where the storm was.  The size of the swell.  The wind direction.  The speed of the waves.   The time of day.  The water temperature.  The length of time between sets.  The height of the tide.  Whether the tide is rising or dropping.  The currents.  The number of people in the water.  Any time one of the variables changes, the entire experience changes. 

All of the variables are constantly changing.

You must pay attention.


These are the lessons of surfing:  Wait.  Pay attention.   Commit.   Release fear.

Surfing Is Waiting

Most of surfing is waiting.  You wait days or weeks for a swell to come across the ocean.  You wait hours or days for the tide to come in or to go out.  You hope and wait for the wind to switch, stop, or start.  Right there we’ve whittled a lifetime into a few hours each week. 

You paddle out into the ocean and wait.  Wait for the set of waves.  Wait for a good one.  Wait for the best one.  Wait, if someone else positioned closer to the peak than you are.  Paddle.  Stay in position.  Wait.  It doesn’t make the most exciting photos.  Exciting photos are misleading.  Most of surfing isn’t standing on a surfboard.  Most of surfing is waiting, paddling, being ready, feeding brave thoughts to your heart.  Exciting photos are monuments to the best seconds.  

At Any Second

When the time comes to turn, paddle, and stand, you must be very strong, very fast, and very brave.  You cannot hesitate or fear.  This is why surfing is a lifestyle—because you must always be ready either to wait or to give 100% at any second. 

Then the ocean’s conditions interact with your conditions:  What you’ve eaten.  What you’ve drank.  How much you’ve slept.  How often you’ve surfed lately.  How happy you are or how sad.  How angry.  How much you love yourself.  How relaxed you are.  How afraid.  Where your body holds pain.  How much energy you have left.  What board you are riding.  How focused you are.  How quick.  How strong.  How brave.

All of the variables are constantly changing.

You must pay attention.

The Soul

The wave isn’t water.   The wave is something else.  It’s a pulse of energy, large or small, that moves through the water.  Water itself lies flat.  Waves move through it and shake it the way you shake your towel to be sure there are no scorpions hiding there.  Water is an element.  Waves are live moments that move through it.  Water is the body; the wave is the soul. 

We interact with them intimately.

From a Verb to a Noun

Somehow, waves and particles are the same thing in quantum physics.   Separated unto itself, I cannot understand this statement.  But in the context of surfing, it’s what we know instinctively.  A wave is all of its moments.  The wave is the swell on the horizon that you sense in the back of your eye before you can see it.  It is the bulge in the water moving toward you, forming.  It is the push behind you.  It is the sudden slope you are diving into as you leap to your feet.  It is the myriad of instants that shape and disappear over/under/around you as you ride.  It is the boom of whitewater as the wave empties its last energy onto the sand bar, or the gentle fading into calm water as it ends.  It’s not one of those things; it’s all of them.  Any of them, separate from the others, is not the wave. 

Get a camera.  Take a photo.  The wave turns into a particle.  It stops being a motion and becomes an image; it switches from a verb to a noun.  Long before you look at the photo, the wave doesn’t exist anymore at all.

You must pay attention.

These are the lessons of surfing:  Wait.  Pay attention.   Commit.   Release fear.

One Thing/Homework

When you love surfing, it shapes your life.  And so you love your life.  

It all becomes one thing:  Surfing, living, love, the water, the motion of waves pushing through it, waiting, the work of paddling, the courage to engage a mountain of water, what you eat, when you sleep, the coffee brewing at dawn.   The magical moment when you release your coiled energy into a push, a leap, and moments of flight—this is the highlight.  But surfing is everything you do if you love it. 

Love is everything you do if surfing is your teacher and you have done your homework.

Very exciting photo by Leonardo Pinero, Tamarindo Costa Rica

Ghosts Are More Territorial Than Cats

ghosts are more territorial than cats
I knew you wouldn’t
follow me
you prefer those same empty rooms with
scratching at the screens

I felt you watch me pack the dishes
take down the pictures
put my cloths into suitcases
and take apart the bed
I assembled there
two and a half years ago when
you were a flesh and blood human
I didn’t know

de último
I stuffed the cats into cages and
took them away

they’re getting used to it here
they love me more than
my own ghost

ghosts are more territorial than cats
which is lucky
I could walk away and leave you there
you would never have left yourself
in spirit
the way you left in body
one cool dry dawn
sin mirar atrás

it was easier for me to go
the excuse about the inundaciones
is true and everyone knows it

I didn’t say adiós when I left
or hasta luego
I walked out the door
as silent as you
as silent as cats

I am not territorial
at all

I bolted the bed together in the new room
with no ghosts
put my shoes in the closet and
the spoons in the drawer
I’m home now
with my books and my
masa madre fermenting in the fridge

at night under the fan
I open the windows to the
sea breeze
and dream sweetly
of cats

Six Feet of Separation


It was13 months ago that the world (mine) shut down. Remember that? Yours may have shut down before or after, but most places on the planet have been “closed” for some length of time during the last year. Isn’t that weird? Who would have thought??

I haven’t written about this. It’s such a polarized subject and I don’t like public conversation on polarized subjects. You may have noticed.

In March of 2020, Costa Rica closed its borders. For three weeks or until further notice which turned out to be November. Surreal. I never thought I would live in a world with closed borders, ever. I mean, there wasn’t even a war or anything. Amazing.

March 2020

I was so scared at first. We all were. I was scared of the mass death I imaged would begin to sweep the globe. Social unrest. Violence. Scarcity. I wasn’t really worried about toilet paper, bread flour, or juicy steaks. I was worried about drinking water, rice, beans, cooking oil.

Ironically, we never ran out of a thing. Tamarindo was a booming tourist town fully stocked to supply thousands and thousands of visitors with everything they could want. And when the borders slammed shut and the thousands of people left, guess what. There was plenty of stuff for those of us who were still here!

Those months of lock-down were awesome. Not from a financial stand-point, of course, but from a quality-of-life standpoint. The nights went immediately from a noisy booming ruckus that started at sunset and ended at dawn, to complete quiet. I’ve never slept so well. The streets were silent. Not just quiet–silent. I could lie in my bed in the early mornings and listen to monkey troupes all the way back up into the mountains telling each other who was where and which way to go or not go that day. At first no one was allowed on the beach, but as soon as we were, every day was a family reunion in the sand. Seriously. Everybody you knew was there. We had all of Tamarindo to ourselves, just like we used to in the rainy season back in the old days. I remember after the government started letting people move around the country a little more and the first San Jose tourists started showing up. It was weird to see someone I didn’t know in line at the store or walking down the street.

We didn’t make very much money, but there weren’t a lot of places to spend it, either. For months, the bars and restaurants were very limited or closed. Only grocery stores and pharmacies were in business. There was even a period of time when people were so scared of each other I only had one or two friends who were brave enough to come over for dinner if I invited them. We had a lot of good times on those quiet nights in my kitchen. Nobody was busy. Can you imagine that? Can you remember? For months on end, no one was busy and tired. It was fantastic.


I don’t watch “the news,” therefore it has no power to frighten me. There are things I am afraid of, but they are not things that I see on tv shows.


Then Costa Rica opened up again and BOOM BABY, we’re back. It’s not “like before,” but Tamarindo is Tamarindo again. Traffic jams. Lines in the stores. Tourists who smell like Coppertone sunscreen and wear special big hats and flowy dresses they bought specifically to wear on the beach. I found this very amusing when “the world” opened up again and the tourists came back. I forgot about the thing of buying special flowy clothing to look pretty in on the beach. During Lockdown when the beach belonged to locals, there was none of that nonsense. Baseball caps. Board shorts. Bikinis. Old t-shirts. No clothes at all if you’re too young to go to school.

And Now?

Who knows. People all over the world are getting vaccinated. This makes them feel much safer. As long as there are travelers, we’ll be ok in my town. In my country. New driving restrictions are returning next weekend, apparently, as “cases” are on the rise again. The restrictions don’t change much for me personally because it’s not the same as a curfew. The curfew is for your car, and I don’t have one.

Wait, so are we “better” because of all the vaccinations? Or are restrictions increasing because we are “worse?” I’m confused.

Of the people I know who have died in the last year, one of them may have been from this virus. I spoke to my family in Milan, Italy where the situation is supposedly completely terrible. They are furious because they say have essentially been on house arrest for one year. I asked them how many people they know who have died from the virus. They said two. Ok, wait. I’m confused.

I must be very very lucky.


I am very very lucky. I am aware of that.


I can’t help it. I have to go there. I’m very lucky. I live in a town where we can be outside in the sun all year long. We can run around barefooted. We are allowed to breathe air. We can get in the salt water every day if we decide to. We get dirt under our fingernails, inhale god-only-knows-what in the dust every time a car goes by, and our pets who sleep in our beds run around in the gardens and on the streets and on the beaches. These things provide immeasurable benefits for our health. We hug each other and kiss each other. Yes we do. I imagine that most of us here have been exposed to this virus and I observe that all of us are doing just fine. So far. We wear our masks in stores and on public transportation because we have to, and any other place we feel like we want to, if we do. I don’t. But some people do. So far we haven’t had trouble respecting each other. If we lose that, we’ve got nothing.

Six Feet of Separation

And now we wait to see what happens next. I am waiting with the television off. I am pretty sure that when the apocalypse comes, I will recognize it. And if it’s a tv show, I might decide not to watch. I might decide to go surfing or take a nap in the hammock. I don’t really want anyone within six feet of me, anyway, at either of those times.

Some Great Vacuum

there are no poems
for you
only wind

the water has turned
cold as ice
the moon has
come and gone

there are no poems
for you
but there are dreams
in which you are different

stars have fallen
wind has moved
a million grains of sand

if words came i would
put them on paper
but there is
only wind

air rushing south
toward you
toward some great

March Night

i want to die in the arms
of a March night
in Guanacaste.
heaven is close, then.
angels hover above dry trees
brushing branches with warm
clutch tiny twigs
playing love songs on
transparent wings.

Noche de Marzo

quiero morir en los brazos
de una noche de marzo
en Guanacaste.
el cielo está cerca, entonces.
los ángeles aletean sobre los árboles secos
rozando las ramas con su aliento
las chicharras,
agarradas de ramitas diminutas,
tocan canciones de amor con sus
alas transparentes.

The Bus Roared Like a Lion

when the bus pulled up
to take you away
to the airport
the driver who opened
the luggage hold for your
suitcases asked
where are you going
and said ustedes to us
even a stranger could see
in the half dark
we were nosotros
one two-headed creature
you answered
aeropuerto and kissed me
the bus swallowed you and
roared like a lion
as it tore us into
tú y yo