That one weekend in Oakland

Back in September, I visited Los Angeles for the first time in a long time. I have been going to Long Beach almost every year for a work conference, but I never made my way up to the City of (Lost) Angels. Along the same vein, this past weekend I was in the Bay Area for the first time forever. I was trying to figure out when I was last there, and I am at a loss. Had it been ten years? More? Now that I think about it, if you add in Mississippi, I seem to be in a period of rediscovery. One of the days, I would also like to revisit NYC again. It’s been a long time since I have been there as well.


This trip was weird, for a lack of a better word, in coming together. Originally, I was going to meet my friend Samarah there, but life got in the way. I went back and forth as to whether to go anyway. In the end, down I went in a last-minute scramble with no plans, and I am glad.


My friend Pam opened her house to me, and it was such a blessing. If you read about my Ireland trip, you know about our Ireland adventure with Candy. Pam’s husband, Willie, is extra nice! Pam has an amazing patio and garden in the back of her house. It was awesome to see hummingbirds and foxes running around back there.


We had some awesome conversations about this strange thing called life. I am in a season where I am not quire sure how the many parts are going to come together, but I must remind myself that it always comes together. I feel like I am a scene in a movie where everything is suspended or frozen. Hopefully whatever the release will satisfy whatever this strange longing is.


It was splendid catching up with folks I haven’t seen in a minute. My college buddy DJ was nice enough to bring Pam and I lunch for our catch up. I went to a bar and bowling with Sam and Mark and their friend Kenny. I have not bowled in such a long time, which was evident in my bowling score, but it was extra fun. I unexpectedly ran into LC and his family at Jack London Square. The last time I saw LC was when I unexpectedly ran into he and Mark in Negril, Jamaica. The sunset there was quite amazing along the waterfront, and you know I love a working waterfront. It was good to see the Port of Oakland in action. It was especially nice to catch up with family and attend services at Center of Grace.


On Saturday, I went to the Art and Soul festival in Oakland with Pam, her daughter, and grand kids. We walked around and looked at vendors. There was also food, drink, and music. The weather was awesome. How much more can you ask for? The weather in Seattle was hotter, so it was nice getting relief from the heat! On Monday, we hit up the marina in San Leandro. I have not spent much time in Oakland, and I was able to see the China Town there, for the first time I think.


We went to this place called Lena’s one night for dinner. The food was good and the proportions gluttonous. Two people could literally split a regular plate, so I would hate to see their large plate. Sunday evening, Willie barbecued, and Pam made yummy potato salad.


Like Seattle, Oakland is being gentrified. While it is nice to see some renaissance in the area with new restaurants and establishments, it is hard to swallow communities who have lived there for generations being pushed out because they can no longer afford the area. In Seattle, people want to be close to the city. In Oakland people want to be close to the City without paying the crazy rents in San Francisco. In my neighborhood, there were these two clubs on Madison whose names escape me. I want to say Deno’s and Oscar’s? Anyway, it added a little grit to the neighborhood, but as the neighborhood changed, it was obvious that they would go by wayside. Truthfully, I was glad when they closed. I always felt weird walking past there and had been offered drugs. But then there is the side that says it was okay for them to exist in their fashion when the neighborhood was black. But when the neighborhood changed, all of a sudden, the police made more of effort to be sure that they didn’t.


I have always felt a kindredness with the Bay Area. I felt a certain melancholy as I left. Tears could start at any second. LOL! If doors opened, I would certainly make a move there. I left my heart in San Francisco. That’s a song, right? Or is it the story of my life?


The good news is that I started writing a story on my way down there. As some of you know, I wrote a story called Harlem’s Song in my early twenties. I have picked it up off and on throughout the years. Of course, the voice of the lead character, Janiah, has changed over time as my own voice changed. I would like to brush the story off in its many forms. It will probably end up being a series of short stories since I don’t have the attention span to write a novel. LOL! The short story I wrote in South Africa, Following Jane’s Advice, is part of that series. Will Janiah finally get over Damien and free her heart to find happiness with someone else? Or will her love for him remain ill fated? Will she cross paths with Stefano again? Stay tuned. Even I don’t know. Lawd Have Mercy. LOL.


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Mississippi nights (and days)

I have been trying to remember when the last time I came to Mississippi was. Certainly, over ten years ago. If I had to guess, I would say somewhere between thirteen and fifteen years ago.


It has been great seeing everyone. From my mom, sisters, aunties, cousins, and friends. I have been told more than once to not let that much time pass by again. My family is just a little zany, so I got it honestly. But we have fun. For example, my aunt was in the hospital, and we were up there reminiscing and laughing and the room a few doors down complained.


A few things stand out to me:

  • It feels so slow. Not in a bad way, but time certainly seems to move like molasses.
  • The stars. The stars are so visible here.
  • People sitting on their porches. If I were to buy a house, I would want it to have a big porch where I can have a rocking chair and watch people ride by.
  • When people are passing by or you are passing by, you wave and/or honk.
  • It’s hot during the day, but so pleasant in the morning and evening.
  • Watching lightning bugs dance across the yard is magical.
  • There are two, old “plantation style” homes that I have loved since I was little that are side to side. It was great to see them and take pictures.
  • There are more of the homes a little further down. I found out that some of my ‘blood kin” bought one of them. I was able to go inside. It was so beautiful and there is a big pond in the back and plenty of land. The home was built by a black man who looked white. When the neighbors found out he was black, he was run off, so it’s fitting that a black family lives there now. It was built in 1920, but it was still equipped with a secret room to hide people who were running away.
  • My great-grandparents had property that was 11.5 acres. My cousins bought acreage adjoining, and it is quite amazing to imagine how it looked when my great-grandparents owned it, and it had animals and a farm. It is overgrown in the back, but there is a creek back there.
  • I loved seeing the homes of two of my grandmothers (I have three…it’s complicated) and home of my great-great aunt. My great-great aunt’s house has an old portion and a portion that was added on. I have never been able to sleep in the old part. There are way too many shadows, but I can sleep in the new part fine.
  • As good of a dominoes player I think I am, older players have a way of schooling me.
  • I am confused by who some of my relatives are. All this time the woman I pictured as my Aunt Fanny is my cousin Sylvia…shush…don’t tell anyone. LOL!
  • I still have tons of relatives I have never met.


Since I have been here, I have been reminiscing about the summer my sisters and I spent here visiting my mom when I was 14.

  • That summer, I spent a lot of time with my girl cousins around my age. We each had a “boyfriend.” One night, we went for a walk (probably to look for the boys), and we ended up walking by (maybe in) the cemetery by my great-great aunt’s house. The boys scared the life out us by jumping out of a tree, and we all went hollering down the street. At some point we started laughing, and we laughed even harder when we discovered one of my cousins (who will remain unnamed – lol) peed on herself.
  • I remembered the time I almost received my first “real kiss.” What had happened was we were sitting on the bench at my grandmother’s house. I was sitting with my friend, and he starting to lean in to kiss me. I jumped up so fast, and I ran into my grandmother’s house and jumped into bed with my mom. It was a mess.
  • I can point at the spot of where the first “real kiss” happened the night after.
  • I can remember my grandmother’s neighbor peaking out at us every night to see what we were up to. She would have her hair bonnet on, and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. She was very nice…just nosy. She would also be out sweeping her porch all day keeping an eye on us during the light hours.


The stars are so visible in my small country town in Mississippi. I was sitting with my sister looking up at the stars. We began reminiscing about summers in Moses Lake watching the stars with some of the neighborhood kids. Then we started remembering other things:


  • Going far from home with our pillow cases to go trick or treating.
  • Going to pick plums from this tree near a doctor’s clinic.
  • Throwing tomato worms off a bridge onto cars going down I-90 with the neighborhood kids. One time a car came off the freeway to come looking for us, and we ran to the Green’s house to hide out.
  • We would be gone all day playing during the summer time. There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood to play with.
  • We talked about all the neighborhood kids from the Guerrero’s to the Vasquez’s to the Green’s to the Gleed’s.


Overall, I remember that it is good to reminisce sometimes.

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LBC/St. Patrick’s Day Dash

My blog, social media (Facebook and Instagram) and the camera on my phone give me ample opportunity and ability to document a lot of my life. It’s a blessing and a curse.


A do love to document travel and races, but I have been negligent.


I went to Long Beach in March. Originally, I was going to fly down on a Saturday, so I could spend Sunday in Los Angeles. So, Saturday I headed to the airport. When I tried to check in at the kiosk, it said it was too early for me to check into my flight. I thought how odd. To make a long story short, I went to the counter to discover my flight had been canceled, and I had been booked for a flight on Monday. I needed to be there Sunday, and I was able to change my flight to then.


I had such plans and dreams of spending Sunday in Los Angeles. Having brunch. Going to the beach, walking around and people watching. Hitting up some favorite neighborhoods. Getting in some much-needed Vitamin D. But alas home I went to return to the airport to fly out Sunday morning.


I was able to check into the conference and unpack. I attended the opening reception then met Samarah for dinner, and we were able to catch up. When she left, I realized I had no pictures. And this theme carried on the for the entire trip. Outside of attending the conference and conference-related events, I was able to spend time with my friends from other ports. The picture posted was taken by a friend of Louanne’s, and she sent it to us. I was able to have dinner with Louanne and Randy. Hit up the beach. Go on walks with a few of my friends and catch up. I was able to see the Queen Mary. The day I left, I was able to grab a quick coffee with Mary. It was nice to catch up with her.



In March, I did the St. Patrick’s Day Dash. I normally try to get a picture of myself at the start and finish of my races, but alas no pictures. I actually got a pretty good time. Around 50 minutes walking. I was a rule breaker, and I ended up starting with an earlier wave. Everybody else was doing it. LOL!


I have not signed up for the Rock and Roll. I really hated the Seattle so much that I might take a break from the half marathons this year, which means I should probably do more 5Ks. I missed the Mardi Gras 5K, which I think was in February. I meant to sign up but what had happened was. Then I missed the Brunch run that happened earlier this month. I actually like that one quite a bit. Such delicious food! So, I need to figure out Plan B.

2017 Christmas Letter

Greetings Family and Friends,

I started writing a yearly Christmas Letter some years back. As I have mentioned in the past, it is a “highlights reel” of the year, which of course doesn’t mean that my life is one rosy picture. It is, however, a reminder (to myself) that at the end of the day (and year), it is important to focus on the good with gratitude and thankfulness. When it comes down to it, in the overall scheme of life, I am blessed

When 2017 began, I had one main goal (outside of traveling) for the year. That was to finish the anthology, which is called The Outpouring. It was completed, and we had a book launch party for it in February. I am very proud of it. I learned a lot after Illuminations was published, and I think The Outpouring reflects it. Both are available on Amazon or through me. I am very thankful to those friends and family who took the time to support me and the other writers.

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For my yearly “big” trip, I went to New Zealand (Christchurch and Queenstown, plus some day trips around the areas) and Australia (Perth and some day trips around the area). I was in New Zealand for nine nights and Perth for six nights. The weather was super nice in both places, though warmer in Australia. I loved the beauty of New Zealand. The further south I went, the more enchanting it was. For a small country, there is so much to see. What I saw is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to read about my trip, it is in my blog. In case you missed it, here is the first entry.

Trip Highlights (in order of appearance – sort of):

  • The best part of any trip is the wonderful people you encounter along the way. And even if I never see them again, they are a vivid speck in my memory bank.
  • I stayed at an Airbnb in Christchurch and enjoyed meeting my host, Miliana, and my housemate, Johannes. Both very good people.
  • I enjoyed reluctantly hiking to Taylor’s Mistake and then purposefully hiking Godley Head.
  • I spent a lovely day driving to Akaroa and back with Johannes. We stopped for many pictures on the way there and back. It was just so beautiful. It was hard to take a bad picture. I enjoyed walking around Akaroa with Johannes complete with a nice picnic lunch.
  • I had a surprisingly lovely time walking around Mona Vale, a garden in Christchurch. I also enjoyed Riccarton Bush because it felt like I was in a forest.
  • Queenstown was absolutely beautiful as well. Despite it being busier, I still felt relaxed while I was there. Water and mountains. How could you go wrong?
  • Milford Sound is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been, period. The boat ride to the mouth of the Tasman Sea was too perfect for words.
  • It was awesome to visit Gabriela in Perth and have conversations with her about life and relationships. I enjoyed our walks and our dinners. I was also inspired to make some moves when I got back that I normally would not have done.
  • Spending the day in Freemantle with Gabriela, her sister Carla and Carla’s family was awesome. I thought Freemantle had a great heartbeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the home cooked meal Carla prepared for us and meeting her family. I loved the market there and met someone who is selling his art, which inspired me.
  • Seeing a humpback whale on the boat ride to Rottnest Island and seeing the Port of Freemantle up close and personal on the boat ride to and from this island.
  • I loved the central location of where I stayed in the cities I visited. It made it so easy to get around.
  • Each trip has a song that connects to it. This trip the song is a toss-up between “The Misty Mountains Cold” and “Song of the Lonely Mountain.” from the Hobbit. Because, let’s face it, I was in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit country.
  • And of course just walking around each city is always fun. You never know what is around the corner, and it is always fun to chat up other tourists.

I remain grateful for the gift of travel. It is a reminder that regardless of race, politics, religion, etc. the majority of people pretty much want the same thing.


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For more pictures, visit my Shutterfly page.

Password is: italia

I did a few smaller trips as well. In March, I took a quick trip to Long Beach for my job. I got to see my buddies from other port cities, so it is a very enjoyable business trip. Long days and exhausting but fun and a great time to catch up with some of the amazing people I have met in the port industry. I also had a chance to hang out with Samarah and Mary for a minute.

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I was able to go to Victoria to see Alice over Memorial Day Weekend and again in August. I am glad to have her back in North America, though I would love to visit her in Hong Kong again. Alas, I discovered Legos while visiting her. I have yet to take the plunge, but they are calling me. Victoria is just a great place to go for a quick weekend getaway.

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I was able to go to Los Angeles during Labor Day weekend and that was super fun. I had not been to Los Angeles in a long time. I was able to stay with Samarah and had a chance to visit with Mary and her family. I saw Mary three times this year. Twice in Southern Cal and once here. I particularly enjoyed visiting Venice Beach and the flea market in Melrose. It was inspiring to see people pursuing their passion. I made the goal of getting out more in Seattle. So far I have done two First Thursdays and a First Wednesday. I also want to hit up some markets when the weather gets better.

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I even did a day trip to Leavenworth.

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The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues. I am at the point where I am trying to maintain. I was able to get off of blood pressure meds last year and that has been sustained. I did three 5Ks in 2017. In February, I did my first Mardi Gras 5K with Erica. In March, I did my sixth St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which is a 5K, with Kim and Katherine. In April, I did my first Brunch Run 5K, with Kim and Katherine. Let me say that is the best race ever! In June, I walked my fifth half-marathon (the Rock N Roll Seattle), and in November, I walked my sixth (the Seattle Marathon). The route for the Seattle was changed, and I am still complaining loudly about it. Too hilly. I would still love to do the Rock N Roll in Lisbon, Madrid, Dublin or Las Vegas.

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I also went on my first hike at Rattlesnake Ledge.

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It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 17th year! Where did the time go? As I mentioned before, I am so excited that the second anthology was published. Writing is something I need to do more of. Writing has always helped me focus. It is something I am passionate about, and it is something that I have been gifted in. The time is there, I just need to use it. It just seems like there is always something there to distract me. I need to focus. I have more writing goals for 2018.

I continue to try to fight the power through words. I am not impressed by what I see happening in Washington. I am very troubled by what I consider to be the silence of “friends” on issues.

I general, my prayer for 2018 is that I spend less time thinking about/talking about what I am going to do or want to do and spend more time just doing.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

love. hug. xoxo.




Having grown up in Eastern Washington, it is a mystery to me as why I only just now visited Leavenworth for the first time. If at some point in my life I have been there, I have absolutely no memory of it.


The Victoria Clipper has a bus service that goes there, and in case we have not met, I don’t drive in the snow (I barely like driving in the sun), so I was excited to see that option. The bus departs at 9:00 in the morning from the downtown waterfront and there is another bus that departs from Northgate.


The package includes a breakfast bag, which included a couple of mandarins, yogurt, a muffin and a bottle of water. It was the right amount.


I am going to give the Clipper the benefit of a doubt and say it was an off bus day. When we first started the journey, the heat was blasting. I was about to start taking off layers, when the driver pulled over and opened up the bus hatches, explaining it was a system problem. That was fine for a short while before it became too cold. So I never felt the right temperature. The bus was swapped out for the journey home, but that bus was a little on the cold side to me as well.


We arrived at Leavenworth around 11:30. I walked around and wandered around for a bit. Most of the main area was either food or merchandise. I did go to a few craft fairs, and I picked up some lovely lavender/avocado body butter from Stormy Mountain Soaps.


One of the churches was offering free use of their bathroom as well as cookies and coffee. Another church was offering soup and sandwiches for a donation. They also had a craft fair. I ended up going in this hall to charge my phone, which was quickly running out of juice. Sometime between my entering the hall and my leaving house, the number of people multiplied…a lot.


With technology, I was able to meet up with Des and her family, but I got to tell you it was too crowded. We ended up going onto a side street to get some relief. The lines to everything/where were hell of long, which I did hear about before getting there. I am not sure how the town is outside of tree lighting, but take the advice to book ahead for restaurants to heart.


We ended up toward the back to see the tree lighting. Again, there were just so many people there. There was a malfunction, so the lights came on in a few spots. Were turned off and came back on in a few more spots before everything came together. Oh, and they said 4:30 for the lighting, but it was well after that.


Then, I had to rush back to catch my bus. I was trying to get pictures, but alas, I was fighting the crowds. I was one of the last people to return to the bus in my attempt to get some pictures, but I was not the very last. We were able to leave in good order, and we got back at 8:00 ahead of the listed 8:45 scheduled time. We got another bottle of water and a snack from Macrina for the way back. We watched White Christmas. It was my first time seeing it.


If I were to do it again, I would probably find a company that stayed a little after the tree lighting service was over (if one exists). The crowds were clearing out as people were leaving directly after the lighting. Another option would be to stay overnight and enjoy the lights after the day trippers were gone. It reminded me of being in Venice and having the cruisers descend into the city. Then the city was calm and moveable after they left.

Pictures can be found here. Password: italia.

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There and Back Again…a LTB Tale

On Thursday, I slept in. After waking up, I got up and got my suitcase organized for the flight on Friday.


I went back to Kings Park and found a nice bench to read. I think I may have mentioned that I downloaded a bunch of books on my Kindle. I had only cracked it open once. After reading for a while, I walked around the garden before heading back to the CBD. I went back to London Court before doing some shopping on Hay Street. Gaby and I went out for a meal for my last night there.

I really enjoyed Perth and part of the reason of course was visiting Gaby.

Friday, I started the long journey home. The flight to Auckland was around 5.5 hours and the flight to San Francisco was 11.5 hours. The line to clear Customs was long, but I made it to my gate about 20 minutes before boarding was supposed to start to discover the flight had been delayed 30 minutes. I am not sure how long it ended up being late, but we were number 30 in line for the runway. Yes. Number 30. It took forever. By the time we reached Seattle, I think we were very late. Then in Seattle, we had to wait for a gate. It had been snowing in Seattle that day.


I went from high 70’s/low 80’s to 30 something degrees. Sigh.


On the way home, I stopped by Safeway to get some food. Then I got home and began unpacking. I did laundry. It was about 11:00 before I went to bed. I woke up around 12:30. I meant to get up earlier, but what had happened was…


I got up and am beginning to settle myself back into the routine at home. I am glad we get to “fall back” tomorrow.


I posted my pictures. Unlike previous trips, I did note delete duplicates as I went. So there are a lot. Password is “italia”.



Rottnest Island

Today I got up bright and early to take the 8:30 ferry over to Rottnest Island. It was a place that was recommended by locals as well as travel guides. I was lucky enough to be given a coupon from an Entertainment book that gave me 25% off the fare. I will note that in looking at some of the local brochures, some of them had coupons ranging from 10% to 20% of various excursion, so they could be worth checking out.


I caught the ferry in Perth and there was also a stop in Fremantle. I was excited because I was able to get some shots of the port from the water. There was another CMA CGM vessel (I assume it is different than the one I saw on Sunday, otherwise they have very slow productivity) and there was also a China Shipping vessel at berth.


On the way there, we saw a humpback whale. I was so excited. There was a period when I dreamed about seeing whales all the time. This is my second time seeing a whale outside of dream land. The first time was a few years back.


It was a nice boat ride over. The weather was very nice. On the way there, I sat on the top level in the back. On the way back, I sat on the top level toward the front. The people in the first row on the left, got soaked . Especially the person in the first seat.


In terms of wildlife, I saw a two lizards and tons of quokkas, which were not too interested in humans. I read that Rottnest is one of the few places quokkas can be found in the wild. They reminded me of huge rats, and they have a funny gait.


I walked to one of the lighthouses and to Oliver Hill. If I had planned better, I would have worn other shoes. Otherwise, I could have walked in the trails and seen more. I would recommend bringing a backpack filled with snacks, plenty of water and sunscreen. I didn’t pack sunscreen this trip, and my skin is paying for it. The sun in this hemisphere is different than at home.


I met Gaby at the quay, and we went out for a belated birthday dinner for her. The weather was nice, so we were able to sit outside. We went Isle of Voyage. The food was okay and the service was bad. Luckily the company was good.


Excuse any typos. I will edit when I get home.

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