Living in cuenca


July 2013 was a month of packing, and taking care of all the loose ends that come with a move. And it was a month of consciously remembering to stay calm and to trust myself. And it was a month of goodbyes, and not allowing myself to second guess my decision. I think that one of the most important things I had to do was to see this move as another experience in the game of life,
And so I tried and am now in Cuenca, Ecuador. The above photo is a view from my window.

Before moving here, I couldn’t quite zero in on what life would be like for a gringo in Ecuador. Reading and researching another person’s experience is like everything else in life. We bring ourselves, and we’re all different, and so our experiences will be unique to us. It makes me think of the book Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabut-Zinn.

Sumi, thank you for agreeing to be a single working mom for a week as hubby Toshi departed with me to give assistance. It was twelve days ago that I left JFK with my son-in-law. The first stop was a night spent in Panama City, Panama at the lovely Riande Aeropuerto Hotel which is five minutes from Tocumen Airport. When we arrived, the night was still young, and we had a relaxing, tasty dinner surrounded by plants, palm trees, and other happy guests. Nearby the hotel’s large pool shimmered in the soft lights.

Early the next morning the hotel’s van took us to Tocumen Airport for a fairly short flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador. There we surveyed our options for the last leg of the journey – Cuenca. We decided that the four-hour bus ride would be scenic – as in up, up the mountain we would go. It was! We saw incredible views. Steep, steep it was though.

And though I was in Ecuador in 2004, I’ll say that at this moment I’m undergoing what’s called “culture shock” because . . . visiting a place and deciding to live there are two entirely different things.

I’ll close for now by saying thank you dear family of mine for all the love and support that came my way. I knew I could leave because you all know how to be happy, you’re all healthy, and you’re all a rather independent bunch.

And I love you all very much.

bdgs at gramercy park and eataly at the flatiron district


This past Sunday found Emi and Jessie having six carefully chosen and funny comics for their show Bad Date Great Story at Gramercy Theatre. Are you thinking: Of course they’re “funny”? Well then, I’m asking: Have you ever watched an unfunny comic? I have, and it’s a rather agonizing experience because you feel for the struggling unfunny comic. Happily, that wasn’t the case this past Sunday. Which is the reason I want to say thank you! for the laughs, and fun, to: Joe DeVito, Katina Corraro, MadDog, Charla, Christie Walsh, and Matt Mercier.

My cousins, Pauline and Diane, came from New Hampshire to watch and enjoy the BDGS show. They decided to drive to the outskirts of NYC on Saturday, find a hotel there, and come into the city Sunday morning. I met them then, and we meandered around waiting for the theatre doors to open at 1:00pm. Though while waiting for me to come in from Philly, they saw a street festival on Broadway between 23rd and 14th Streets, and thoroughly loved eating their way to 14th Street – and back. If you met them you’d wish they were your relatives, too.

And as we were meandering around the neighborhoods, I said to my cousins: “The show is a little on the risqué side; are you all right with that? Their uproarious laughter was followed by Pauline’s tongue-in-cheek humor: “No, we’re not; we’re two virginal sisters, and you’ll have to explain everything to us.” – the laughter continued. And I know in my bones that that question of mine will haunt me, and bring lots of laughter to our family. Whatever was I thinking? I’m prepared; it’s okay, laughter is good for mind body spirit.

It’s not possible to be in the Flatiron District and not go to Eataly, at 200 Fifth Avenue. it’s an impressive “50,000 sq. ft. Italian marketplace.” And to say it’s impressive is an understatement. For this we have to thank Mario Batali, and his business partner Joe Bastianich, along with their partners, Lidia Bastianich and Oscar Farinetti.


I made a mental note that, sometime during the day of the next Bad Date Great Story show in June, I’ll meander over to Eataly to take in a little more of the eating and shopping experience. That sounds like a wonderful plan to me.

I’m wishing everyone a lovely full-of-laughter and fun kind of day.

Welcome To 2013!

Happy New Year friends & visitors. I hope you are as excited about 2013 as I am! There is something incredibly special about entering a new year and it is important to remember that the possibilities for change are endless. It’s up to you, so what’s it going to be? How is this going to be your best year ever?!

As far as we are gearing up for what will be a year of growth and change… New writers added, a new look and awesome video and pictorial content are on the horizon. We would also love love love to hear from you our readers. Have something to share? A written piece? A photo or video? A cool link? We will be adding contact forms for submissions and suggestions.

Lastly I would like to thank all of you who have visited and supported through the years. We are grateful and humbled by the amount of traffic has received since starting out. We can’t wait to blow you away in 2013 as we continue this fun interactive journey together.



P.S. I love finding cool and interesting sites online. What could you come up with to make some $$$ in the next 24 hours? eh?

Man’s Best Friend

Charlotte hams it up!

Anyone who’s had a dog understands the important role these special beings play in a family. The pure and unconditional love of a family dog is something that everyone should be fortunate enough to experience.

Charlotte is 8 years young and every single day she teaches us about unconditional love. Whether sitting at our feet while we peck away at a keyboard and work. Greeting us at the door without fail every single time anyone comes home or making sure she is body to body with whomever she is sharing the couch with.

Pure love, friendship & loyalty about sums it up.

it is what it is

I’m thinking that Charlie Sheen should be allowed to have a private meltdown without all the media fuss. And that includes all the other “celebrities” who are in the same boat.

Doesn’t it strike you as puzzling that with everything going on in the world, and with all the many fascinating things there are for us to learn about and write about and think about and talk about that – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, we’re fed a steady diet of nonsense.

Unless we put blinders on, it’s impossible to not see the big headlines and the calling-for-attention photos popping up at every turn. Click on to aol “news” and there’s Charlie Sheen a good part of the time these past few weeks, pass magazines hanging all around sidewalk newstands, next to store registers, and in major book stores having the same silly articles month after month, and then we have what’s called “news” on tv.

In any event, it’s all part of the world we live in. Along with beauty, love, compassion, harmony, there’s a part of life that’s bewildering, and leaves one at a loss for words. It’s not good and it’s not bad; it is what it is.

An email is going around and it would be hilarious if real people were not involved. It takes place at Walmart, and they’re all photos of Walmart customers in an assortment of – how to put this . . . I have to think about that. I’m glad I saw the email because, well, I just don’t know the reason yet. After that particular email though, I had to pull myself together and so I started thinking about those people caught in a lens and a camera’s click, and harshly exposed for the world to snicker at. The uninspiring photos say that these people are struggling in a way that an outsider can’t understand, and in a kinder world no one would have thought to expose them to ridicule.

* * * * * * *

” . . . and I love them unconditionally, which is the only kind of love worth bothering with.” – Go Gentle Into That Good Night, by Roger Ebert

“When we give ourselves the knowledge of who we truly are and the permission to express it – wholeness and healing burst through us as peace, joy . . . and love for self and others.” – Jerry Thomas

“We are raised on comparison, our education is based on it, so is our culture. So we struggle to be someone other than who we are. – J. Krishnamurti

“May I always be in the right place at the right time to do as much good as possible.” – Raymon Grace

“Wherever you are, whatever your condition is, always try to be a lover.” – Rumi

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” – Jean Jacques Rousseau

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” – Leonardo da Vinci


Winter sometimes seems very long. That’s what people say. However, winter 2010-2011 is different. I don’t know why, but in this area of the world people are enjoying it, and it’s not because it’s warm, it’s not. Of course, I’m talking from a Philadelphia perspective, and not New England, or the midwest. Last year, in this part of the world, winter 2009-2010 had many grumblers not liking the snow or cold (especially the snow), at all, and they freely complained to anyone within earshot. This year the feeling is different; I even hear people calling from across the street to friends: Hey, ____ , are you loving the snow? Enjoying the cold? And they laugh. What happened between this winter and last? – I asked myself.

What makes me feel wonderfully toasty warm on a cold and windy day is when I’m out and about feeling rather chilly, and I see someone ambling towards me dressed in shorts and a cotton shirt. At that moment, I feel like a cold weather coward, and right away get the message to toughen up. And I do, and the day becomes warmer. And I smile at the impact we have on one another, often without realizing it; it’s immensely interesting and grand. Well, grand if it’s the right kind of impact.

A few weeks ago as I stood waiting for a green light, I saw someone across the street patiently waiting for the light to change. It was cold, and a persistent cold wind made it colder. He didn’t seem to notice the weather; he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, holding a jumbo drink filled with ice cubes, and sipping it as though palm trees surrounded him, and lazy warm waves on a calm beautiful sea called to him. I stared, and in staring I felt warmer by the second. Additionally, throughout the day if I wanted to stay warm while walking, all I had to do was picture him just the way he was. Ahh, thoughts are indeed powerful.

So, if one day you’re feeling cold, find the one oblivious to weather conditions, and keep that memory alive.

The Master Cleanse Experience… aka Lemonade Diet

Well it has been sometime since I have blogged, before the birth of our second baby, Clover Alessandra. This topic, however, has to be blogged about. I started the Master Cleanse diet this past Monday, January 29th, 2008. It is a 10 day(min) fast where you only consume liquids consisting of a lemonade concoction and then do a herbal laxative tea in the morning and evening. I completed this fast once January 2007 with my mother-in-law, Fran. 

What drove me to even consider this craziness was that I was at my wits end with the lack of weightloss from having my first baby, Sebastian. I packed on a hefty 50 lbs with him and had 40 lbs to lose after the baby. I managed to wittle away at it but by the holidays (6months) later I was still 10 lbs heavier and at a plateau. I saw the footage on Oprah about Beyonce Knowles doing the fast to lose weight for her role in “DreamGirls” I thought to myself… I can do that! So when I saw the family at Christmas I mentioned it to Fran and low and behold, she had the actual orginal book The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs.   I was shocked! Apparently she had the book and had always wanted to do the fast but never got around to it.  So it was ON! We decided to start and complete the fast together beginning the new year. 

It was a really tough first few days and I almost quit so many times. It was amazing the need to chew something was what I felt and I just felt like I had the flu. Apparently these are all detox symptoms. At the end of the fast I was a pleasant 12 lbs lighter and had so much energy and umpf that I was so happy I had completed the fast no matter how tough it had been.

This is why I am here again going through the same fast. This time I had more to lose since I started at a higher starting weight. I figure it will get me going down the right path and help me restart my system. Oddly though, this time the fast has not been as arduous. It has actually been quite easy.  I was prepared for the worst on day 2 and day 3 and that never came. I am currently on day 6 and toward the end of the day at that.  One side effect I am experiencing that I also had last time is the “coldies”. You just freaking feel cold all the time. I guess the lack of solid food and also it being winter time doesn’t help. Besides that everything else, including the cravings are manageable. Last time I was obsessed with watching the Food Network and looking at cookbook recipes. Weird even though I couldn’t eat anything just looking at it made me feel better and closer to food. I am planning to go to day 10, but have been contemplating continuing on for 4 more days to make it a full 2 weeks.

I have been looking at message boards which are really helpful during this time. It is always nice to know there are others going through what you are going through. With that being said, it is definitely easier to do this with someone than alone. Also I had the benefit of having this week off of work. So I will only be at work for 3 days if I complete the 10 day fast instead of the 14 day one. The worst days are also in the beginning.

So right now my sense of smell is like superhero sense of smell. I guess since I am not eating it has instensified my other senses. It’s really odd to smell everything so intensely but at the same time really great. I am also just starting to get the energy high that comes with this fast toward the end. I have also managed to mantain working out. I have gone twice now and plan to go and do a weightlifting class tomorrow.

One thing I did differently this time was I drank a lot more water in between my lemonade drinks. I think that really helped me feel so much better and I am glad I figured that out. Also having two little ones keeps me really busy and my mind off of the whole food thing. It is truly amazing how much time you have when you don’t mess with food. You have a lot of free time to read and do things you usually don’t have time for. For me though with the kids I am just spending more time with them.

So another hard thing is watching your loved ones eat in front of you. Michael has been eating pizza, chinese food, pasta, etc.  It’s tough but I just tell myself that I can’t do it and I am too close now to the end to stop this. I know once I am done I will feel like a million bucks just like last time. Also hopefully a good 15 lbs lighter. Currently I have lost 8 1/2 lbs as of this morning weigh in. It is really motivating to see that scale go down everyday! My plan after the fast is really stay away from all the bad foods and eat a more clean diet and continue my vigorous exercising… I am addicted to the working out part!

So to anyone that wants to try this diet… DO IT! Just commit and do it and I promise you will be truly amazed at how you feel and how you look! 


There’s much talk about coffee. Do we pay attention? Dunkin’ Donuts is back in the running, and seems to have made an impressive comeback. The word is that Starbucks is trying to reinvent itself. I remember when Starbucks came on the horizon, founded by a fellow from Brooklyn. Its coffee was tasty then, not bitter or acidic, as I’ve heard it described in recent years. Could it be that a little more training is needed at Starbucks to produce a better cup of coffee? Or is it the beans? A few Starbucks places still offer a really good cup of coffee. Consistency is what counts though. Maybe they wouldn’t have to offer up all those flavors and creations if the coffee tasted better instead of bitter. Is it that way in Seattle?

Once I heard a “coffee expert” in Panama say that when inferior beans are used flavored syrups are offered to improve the taste. Is that true? I don’t like flavored coffee, however, judging from the display of flavors on the shelves at some cafes, many people do. What kind of beans are they using?

A few weeks ago I was in Whole Foods minding my own business when a rush of aroma, the kind that makes you forget for a few seconds what you’re doing, exploded in the form of coffee beans being grounded. That coffee had an amazing aroma, and had I not been caught up in getting a meal together, I would have tapped the woman grinding the beans on her shoulder to inquire about her selection. As It turned out, I couldn’t leave the store without scanning the beans on the shelves in an attempt to determine what she bought. Then I looked upward and a hunch told me it was Kona. Yes, expensive Kona in all its glory.

People often judge a good restaurant not only by its food but by its coffee, and on those rare occasions when a good restaurant fails the good coffee test it’s a wee bit disappointing. No, actually it’s quite disappointing.

Ahh, ongoing coffee talk will continue as long as the chase after a good cup of coffee continues.

We’ll talk tea another time.


One morning I logged on to my laptop, and noticed a piece on aol about the most dangerous cities in the US. It wasn’t pretty. Many of the photos were of police capturing troublemakers, all in terribly run-down sections of towns. After that I got to thinking about the word quality, and the fact that it doesn’t seem to exist in many movies flooding the big screen lately. Dark, full of violence and destruction, gruesome murders, suck your energy and leave you feeling drained, scare for scare’s sake, kind of movies are rolling out of Hollywood more than ever. Why? Is it easy money? If those producers would, with the same kind of publicity and enthusiasm, put their attention on feeding the mind, spirt and emotions instead of feeding anger, aggression, and violence, what a difference it would make in the lives of people. It’s the same with video games. It’s been said that we use 5% of our brain power – some manage to use a little more. Not impressive. That number would be laughable in any other area of life. We can up the ante in many ways, but I don’t think those dark, violent, aggressive, change the chemical balance of the body kind of movies are going to do it for us. Imagine how different it could all be.

peace and love in 2008

I hope anyone reading this was able to welcome in the New Year around family, friends and loved ones.

Mom, thanks for making the trip. It was wonderful as always having you with us. I’m thinking that Taverna Agora may become a family spot…

Good things coming for all of us in 2008!