the river

Often as I walk along the Rio Tomebamba going into El Centro, I reach for my phone to take a picture. You see, the river is ever-changing, and because there’s been a lot of rain every single day during the month of March, the river looks mighty powerful. 

People flock to the river for different reasons . . . there are young lovers head-to-head enjoying each other’s company; a few people sitting on benches facing the river are deep in conversation; some folks are reclining on the grass with a book in their hands; teenagers are happily practicing walking on a rope tied to two trees; there are people simply watching the river while slowly licking an ice cream cone; sometimes people are washing their clothes and placing them neatly out to dry in the sun; children are playing and laughing in the water; bicyclists are pedaling by; always there are people meandering with their dogs; police are strolling along the sidewalk; and across the narrow road from the river are people sitting on their terraces, grateful to have a river view. I pay attention to the activity, noticing that down by the Rio Tomebamba, no one ever seems to be in a hurry. 

  This is a photo of Rio Tomebamba in a more isolated area during a quieter time in February. Do you see a woman relaxing on the edge of the water?

The Rio Tomebamba is an important part of life in Cuenca. As I walk along the river, I sometimes wonder about the people who lived here centuries ago, and what their relationship to this well-loved river was.

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“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it, always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle

cafe, tinto, por favor. Gracias.


Nescafe is usually served in many restaurants in Cuenca. I can’t help but wonder how that ever happened. Thankfully, there are two places a few busy blocks from where I live, the El Centro area, that have coffee from Loja, the southern part of Ecuador. And that is something to get really excited about.

20130827-164846.jpg walking down the block the smell of coffee attacks. I like that.

20130827-165230.jpg It was necessary to substitute my wonderful French Press for what is seen in the pitcher in the photo. That’s when I discovered that as long as quality coffee is put into that little white (well, it used to be white) bag, along with the right coffee to water measurement, the end result is as good as making it in a French Press – a little more work, but worth it.

20130827-165844.jpg My Spanish is non-existent at the moment, which means I go along the streets and enter shops unable to ask the simplest of questions.

20130827-170911.jpgThe young person in the photo next to the coffee grinder works at the cafe where people happily purchase a cup, or a pound. She’s very good at pantomiming, and for now that is our form of communication.

I’m still waiting for the sun to stay long enough to warm an apartment made of stone and cement. It’s chilly in Cuenca, Ecuador. Should you decide to vacation here, bring a few warm clothes, oh, yes, and an umbrella.

Let’s wish each other the loveliest of evenings.

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“Not all who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.” – Hafiz

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley

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Emi and her camera

Daughter Emi’s photos tell a story. She has an eye that captures the essence of a person and place. Most times Emi has her camera with her, and should that not be the case, the phone’s camera and Emi’s eye will more than suffice, because, you see, love and passion take extraordinary pictures. It’s been this way since she was very young. The following are from my iPad and phone, and I wish I had some of her other photos, but, alas, I don’t.

When the above photo was taken by Emi at Ocean Grove, NJ it was an unusually chilly June day, still, if I look at it long enough I feel my feet sinking into the sand as I wonder what’s across that vast ocean, then I see people are jumping into the waves, and lots of people are sitting on the sand perhaps dreaming, others are pointing to designs made by the clouds, sunbathers are making sandcastles and children are laughing as a friend is turned into a sand mermaid, someone is kayaking, families are collecting seashells, couples are riding the waves hand-in-hand. Now people are leaving. Lucky me I stayed and watched magnificent dolphins playing. The sun is setting now and I’m saying goodbye to a gorgeous day. Ah, yes, such is the magic of a photo.

We were walking south in the 30s in Manhattan and It was a wonderfully light night, and Emi couldn’t resist capturing the sliver of the moon in its wondrous simplicity, lights were peeking through a few windows from very dark buildings. There’s a flicker of gold against the beautiful sky, to the right a tree is seen; it wants to be included also. This scene projects a sense of majesty at this moment on this night.

Emi is taking a last look at Philadelphia last Saturday as she leaves for Manhattan. The day was HOT! and it was HUMID! No matter, it looks serene. Nature is helping the people on the grass to relax – an abundance of trees, a soft blue sky, a bit of water will do that. The buildings are standing at attention, as if enjoying the scene, and appreciating the tranquility of a HOT and HUMID Saturday, compared to the busyness of a HOT AND HUMID Monday. All is well.

This is a casual scene in Rittenhouse Square Park in Philadelphia on Mother’s Day 2012. There’s a sign in the center where two people are sitting; it says: “free advice.” We laughed. It’s a neat idea, basically the sign tells nothing. So, someone sits facing the advisor, and then what? I like that. I wonder how much one pays for this “free advice.” the day is lovely, as is the art show surrounding the park. There’s a sweet expression on the face of the man in the orange shirt. Hey, why not, it’s Mother’s Day and he’s alive in this fascinating and mysterious world.

You might say there’s nothing special about the above photo. (lol, the above photo is gone! I’ll get it back. So, the first sentence of this paragraph is perfect.) And I’ll say, ahh, but . . . Emi took this picture a month ago as she was passing Paracelso because she knows it’s one of my favorite Manhattan shops. And that’s the reason I’d like to include it along with the other photos. Paracelso is not a run-of-the-mill shop; it’s very special to many people for quite a few reasons, as is the owner Luxor Tavella. Talk about staying power in the heart of SoHo where shops have come and gone through the years. Should you visit, don’t be put off by the face paint Luxor wears; she has her reasons. The following website will tell you a little about Luxor and Paracelso –
Thank you, Emi.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, what will you be doing?

Oops! Emi texted that the park photo is of Central Park, and that it was sent by mistake via phone as she was leaving Philly. Well, a park in a big city with people relaxing is still a park in a big city with people relaxing no matter where it was taken, right? – Although, I admit I should have known:-(

joshua bell and an experiment

Rush hour in many major cities is an intense time. This story though is about so much more. Last year I experienced “rush hour” when waiting for someone at Grand Central Station. I was standing in front of a store window when suddenly many people raced by – a stampede is what it was. They began brushing up against me; I started to think I had become invisible. I was occupying a small space and moving a few inches back wasn’t a possibility. I won’t say anymore except that the insanity will stop when we fully understand the power of the present moment.

This remarkable story has been traveling around by way of email.

“A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the
violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for
about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was r…ush hour, it was
calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on
their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was
musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds,
and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman
threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him,
but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he
was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother
tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the
violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to
walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by
several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced
them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and
stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk
their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and
silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there
any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most
talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most
intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a
theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro
station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social
experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The
outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:
Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize
the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

“If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best
musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many
other things are we missing?”

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“It’s foolish how we rush through life and cry that time is on the wing. We’re living in eternity, and time is just a clockmade thing.” – R. McCann


a 2012 imagine that! new year


It feels as though it’s going to be an interesting 2012. Interesting that loosely-used and versatile word saves the user from having to explain further as it has a way of explaining itself. People understand what they want to understand when the word is used. I like this word.

What is there to say about the coming year other than there’s a good chance it’ll be interesting? Will it be more interesting than other years? Will it be interesting in that they’ll be more wars, more political betrayals, more greed, more abductions, more foreclosures, more murders, and more scandals?

Or interesting in that we are our “brother’s keeper” will be written in our hearts, and step-by-step all of the above will have no place in our world because the pattern has been broken and replaced with “How can I serve?” Some people say this way is not possible on Planet Earth. Some say it is indeed possible. How will we ever know whether it is or it isn’t unless we give it a try? Imagine what an exquisitely interesting world it could be.



I had a recent discussion with someone about bringing up a child in today’s world, and when I got off the phone I took a long, deep breath. it’s an ongoing discussion, and anyone raising a child knows about all the advice and opinions coming from books, magazine articles, blogs, family, and friends, and the confusion at times when needing an answer and finding contradictions.

I feel though that a few things haven’t changed: the ease of teaching at that early fun age by just walking and talking and playing rather than trying to get a teenager’s attention later on; the loneliness of making tough decisions, and the strength that follows; the importance of honing one’s intuition and common sense; guilt that creeps into the mind at all hours of the day and night (It serves no purpose, and it drains one’s energy); the importance of forgiving and then forgetting; communicating as much as possible; laughing often; knowing when to let go; and appreciating the gift of a precious life to care for and to love.

Then I thought again about writing more, and said, no, no, no, it’s too broad a subject having too many opinions. So, instead I’ll generalize and take the easy way and say: parenting in today’s world is having to give all you’ve got and expecting nothing much in return – for a while. It’s about knowing that if you do your very best, you’ll end up smiling often. It’s about building a strong foundation of trust in oneself, one’s child, and the Universe. It’s about developing the power of intuition. It’s about understanding that every child is different and nothing is written in stone, and no one knows a child better than a loving parent/caregiver. It’s about not comparing. It’s about using lots of common sense. It’s about unconditional love, understanding and compassion. It’s about letting go at the right time. It’s about hopefully staying two steps ahead until those parenting skills (which are mostly learned “on the job” – interesting because it’s such an important job) kick in. It’s about remembering the words of the older generation who keep repeating them when they sense you’re about to fall apart: “I know it seems like the longest journey you’ve ever been on, but trust me, it all goes by so fast.” Difficult to imagine, but true; I know from experience that it passes in a flash. Enjoy the ride, and every so often smile when reading the words of Khalil Gibran.

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.”

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And the following are Krishnamurti’s words taken from an address he had given in 1927 and printed in the book The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief by Mick Brown (“This book starts out excellently and then gets better.” Robert M. Pirsig, Author of ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE):

“What are you seeking . . . you who strive and struggle and ache eternally with unsatisfied longings? Is it money? Is it possessions? Is it fame? Is it physical comfort? Is it love? Is it spiritual safety? . . . Yes indeed, you think it is one of these things. But I tell you it is not. What you are seeking for ceaselessly, day and night, is Happiness . . . The thing you seek is ever at your hand. Be Happy, and then whatever you do will be worthwhile . . . Do that which makes you happy to do, and you will do right.”

Today the sun is out in full force and I hear people laughing as they walk pass my window. It looks like a beautiful day; let’s be happy and enjoy.

are we alive yet?

For the people who are lounging on a beach soaking up the sun sipping a favorite hot day drink, well, I’ll just say that you’re missing the delightful season of autumn. The leaves are falling and carpeting the sidewalk. The many that are on the trees have turned from green to red, gold, orange, and yellow. Pumpkins still sit where they were placed in October. Soup is the order of the day. The sun is playing hide and seek. Thank you leaves for brightening the day.

“Your wildest adventures can happen
without ever leaving home.”
from the book THE WAY OF THE WANDERER by David Yeadon

Lounging on a beautiful beach, looking at the sparkling water, swimming in the sparkling water, jumping into the waves, eating avocados for lunch (they’re so good for us), walking along the beach at sunrise and sunset, having the pleasure of being in a completely different environment, conversing with newly-made friends, visiting new sites is not too shabby a day either. Come to think of it, I want it all.

“Walk down
as many roads
as possible.”
– Phil Cousineau

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in
seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust

Most people have that fantasy of catching the
train that whistles in the night.
-Willie Nelson

People say that what we are all seeking is a
meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really
seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience
of being alive.
– Joseph Campbell, THE POWER OF MYTH
from the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

liking those quotablecards

Have you bought a quotable card lately? You know, the one when it first came to the marketplace had a white background and bold black letters. They seemed to have been a hit from the start.

Do you like this one?
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
Are you happy with the number that came to mind?

What about this:
as though no one is watching you.
as though you have never been hurt before.
as though no one can hear you.
as though heaven is on earth. – Souza

They’re reminders, too, and when hung where it catches our eye they do just that
Because every so often we need reminders –
to make time to dance, move wildly, shake like the Kalahari Bushmen
and enjoy.
to open our heart and let love enter. Still one of the walking wounded? A closed heart hurts much more in the long run.
to give it our all and sing that song – a little louder; no one’s listening.
to live before. . . .

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“People become what they expect themselves to become” – Mahatma Gandhi

“You can make the place you are now your paradise.”

“Never seek happiness outside yourself.”

joan hickson as beloved miss marple

When Emi told me that Jennifer Garner is scheduled to play Miss Marple, well, the first thought was, Jennifer Garner as the beloved Miss Marple? – how is that possible? Not to say anything against Jennifer Garner. It seems that Disney wants to change Agatha Christie’s famous and well-loved Miss Marple and make her “more contemporary.” And I have to ask why? Few things are perfect just as they are, and maybe Miss Marple as played by Joan Hickson is one of those things. One would think that Disney is capable of creating a story having its own wonderfully enjoyable character perhaps a bit similar to Miss Marple and leaving Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple as played by Joan Hickson just as she is.

And so now instead of post-war England, cups of tea, and a delightful elderly spinster who happens to have a flair for eventually tracking down murderers, will Miss Marple solve murders by computers in a high tech building, speed along in her sports car, have overwhelming adventures, a cell phone she can’t live without, a fashionable wardrobe, and possibly relationship problems, etc.? What exactly does “more contemporary” when referring to Miss Marple mean, Disney?

Have you guessed that I really like watching Miss Marple? You also? Spending time with her is a treat. Agatha Christie didn’t stoop to exaggeraged scenes in her stories; she proceeded softly and intelligently. We feel the wheels turning in Miss Marple’s head as she elegantly, quietly, and efficiently deduces who the murderer is. She likes traveling by train and sometimes she’s in a beautiful English countryside, and then a city, and, yes, the Bahamas usually in the midst of an array of people interesting in their own way. And we’re never quite sure who might have done it until Miss Marple has sorted things out and is ready to explain, all in proper fashion, who did it.

Agatha Christie wanted Joan Hickson to play Miss Marple; Joan Hickson was 78 when she took the role, and “She was the oldest actress ever to take the lead in a major television series,” and “The tools of her trade are frequent cups of Earl Grey tea, her needle sharp eyes and her acute hearing, which enables her constantly to overhear crucial conversations from considerable distances.” (quotes taken from the Independent Arts & Entertainment and written by Alexandra Younger and Tom Vallance.) At the age of 86 she wanted to retire from playing Miss Marple, though not to retire from acting. Imagine that!

The Classic Mysteries Collection:
A Carribean Mystery
The Mirror Crack’d
From Side To Side
Sleeping Murder
4:50 From Paddington
The Moving Finger
At Bertram’s Hotel
Murder At The Vicarage
They Do It With Mirrors

I feel that having Jennifer Garner play Miss Marple is like offering a chocoholic a bowl of hard candy when the finest of dark chocolate was always the offering. There’s dissapointment in that offering and the chocoholic would rather do without. Jennifer, one would think that there are other roles waiting for your talents, just not this one.

Thank you for listening 🙂 and have a beautiful day.