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September. 11 to 25, 2007
I’m moving along….with the help of friends. I
sent off a draft of the introduction (to the collaborative
story/cookbook) to my daughter, Jan, and she gave me a terrific
critique. It’s very close.
Yesterday, Mary Jo Ryan came over to help me organize the
recipe list, add new ones, and figure out who would want to
join the groups of testers I need to set up.If you are in the
area and into cooking, let me know and perhaps you can join
a group. One more meeting with Mary Jo and that should be pretty
much organized. Mary Jo is in the food business and it’s
nice to have her guidance. She came over at eleven-thirty and
left at nine-thirty. We had Vietnamese spring rolls for
lunch and larb gai and ho mok for dinner. And we even got a
lot of work done…..under her direction. There’s
tons more to do, but it isn’t chaos any more.
Today I got an e-mail from Mandy, a recent law-school graduate,
who is going to India; and, if I’m ready, she will check
out some information and groups regarding a fund to manage
the education grants that will come from the profits of the
book (the one that’s in process).
I am so grateful for all the help I’m getting. Maria
is still testing recipes in Mexico. The lesson here is, sure,
go ahead and bite off more than you can chew……as
long as you have friends or readers out there who will help
out with the processing. As Mary Jo pointed out yesterday,
with age comes a willingness to accept your own limitations.
Tomorrow evening at seven, I’m going to speak at Village
Books in Bellingham, two or so hours from here. I’m staying
with Eileen Galer who is responsible for the visit…….and
the next day I’m having lunch with Elizabeth whom I met
in Mexico and on to La Conner where I’m visiting with
a couple of book clubs at the invitation of Lou whom I also
met in Mexico. Life is not dull.
I hired someone on Saturday to pick about three big buckets
of Muscadine grapes that are growing out my back door. I washed,
boiled, squooshed, and squeezed them into the most amazing
purple grape juice anyone has ever tasted. Mary Jo and I drank
it from wine glasses with our meals and it was even better
than wine. They were the first grapes I’ve ever picked.
I have never known a grape that didn’t grow in a supermarket.
What a treat.
Martin, the young man who picked the grapes, is an agronomist
from Bolivia who is here to work with Earthcorps; he lives
down the street from me in Ann Lawrence’s home. I wrote
about her a few journals ago.
I haven’t found a house-sit in BC yet. But the Sunday
NY Times had an interesting article about Spain….and
it keeps popping up in my thoughts. Hmmmm. Well, it’s
still a couple of months away.
That’s it for today. Goodbye, Rita
PS Anybody know a Canadian family heading south for the
winter? I'm looking to house sit in BC.
I am so much better at not doing anything than I am at moving
through a long list of projects…or even a short list.
Especially when I am the one setting the deadlines.
The collaborative story/cookbook is at the top of my list….and
for at least a month I’ve promised myself every day that
I will work on that introductory chapter that my agent says
I have to write before she will market it to publishers. So
that’s how I started today. But then I remembered that
I had to do some PR for the talk I’m giving in Bellingham,
WA, on the 25th (too late, it turns out; the features writer
at the newspaper needs three weeks). So then I decided I’d
better do something about the talk in San Diego on October
20th, so I sent out five e-mails to media down there. No responses
yet. And while I was there, I answered a few reader e-mails.
After all that work I needed a snack. My refrigerator is loaded
because I had guests over the weekend Jacquie (one of the writers
who has a story in that book) and her husband, Larry. Now I
have to eat everything because of course, I over-bought…or
I have to figure out a way to freeze or cook it. I hate
When I looked into the fridge for my snack, I realized that
if I didn’t turn lots of those vegetables into a soup,
I’d end up throwing away food. So I made a soup, of course.
When I sat down to eat the soup, I grabbed the book review
section of Sunday’s NY Times and realized that I hadn’t
even looked at the paper. So I had to read it, and the NY Times
is very big.
Finally it was four o’clock and I sat down to work on
the intro…but then I looked at the date and I knew that
I needed to do a rewrite on this homepage. I’m determined
to do a new homepage every week, so you guys will keep coming
back. Here I am. The day is gone and the intro is still waiting.
I’m almost finished…two hours and it’s done.
So how come I’m not finishing it?
Uh, oh. I just thought of something. I recently discovered
www.pandora.com. It's an amazing site that lets you type in
the names of your favorite singers and it makes a "station" for
you. I have a Frank Sinatra station and an Ella Fitzgerald
station, a Judy Collins and a Pete Seeger and an Odetta. They
fill in the station with others who are similar to the key
one you put in. So I have been walking around non-stop singing
my favorite songs at the top of my lungs and loving it! I can
cook, read the paper, even do e-mails, sort of, while I'm singing.
But I can't write an introduction and sing at the same time.
Maybe that's why I'm not writing. Singing is much more fun!
Goodbye for now. I have to run because I know there's
something I have to do. And Nat King Cole
is singing "Mona Lisa."
Hi and Welcome,
I can't write that date without a tear for what has happened
in the world in the last six years. My heart goes out to all
who suffered a personal loss. We are all still suffering the
For those of you who are here for an update on the collaborative
story/cookbook, here's the latest. Nothing new...I am taking
it easy this week after gall bladder surgery on Friday. I'll
get back to work tomorrow.
I'm still working on the introduction. Hoping to have it done
by the end of the week. As you may have noticed, I'm not working
all that hard. I do promise to get this book to my agent, Elaine
Once the introduction is finished, I'm going to start on the
recipes. When I have about ten, I'll send the package back
to Elaine and hopefully she'll send it out to publishers.
So that's what's going on with the book.
Lately I’ve been feeling as though anyone who visits
me here is going to be disappointed because I’m not out
in the world having adventures. Instead, I’m living in
one place (until December), doing all the things everyone else
is doing: going to the dentist, answering e-mails, accumulating
and paying bills, cooking, eating, meeting friends…….and
working at promoting the nomad book and organizing the next
book. (The “next book” is a collaborative story/cookbook,
an anthology with recipes that readers have submitted.) I’m
also getting ready to focus on setting up an educational fund
for slum kids in New Delhi that will be funded from sales of
It’s all stuff that has to get done……..but
my life for these months can’t compare to the excitement
of tracking orangutans in Borneo, singing and laughing with
tribal men in Irian Jaya, living with royalty in Bali, or meeting
interesting people in India.
But this past week something clicked: adventure doesn’t
have to happen “out there.” The best part of my
adventures in the past twenty years has been the people I’ve
met. And there are interesting people everywhere. All week
long, even here in Seattle, things and people kept happening
to me, and I felt the same kind of joy I feel when I’m “out
First, I had a house guest whom I picked up at the ferry that
goes from Victoria, BC, to Seattle. Catherine, an artist, has
traveled around the world on a sailboat and lived for five
years in Samoa. She has contributed an intriguing and eerie
tale for that story/cookbook about a bizarre relationship she
had in Samoa with a fire-knife dancer. When I picked her up
at the ferry, we met for the first time.
Then, as we were driving to my house, the car began to smoke
and smell. I drove it to Leo, the nicest mechanic I’ve
ever had. He’s American-Chinese (one of the things I
love about Seattle is its diversity); and if you live in Seattle,
you will find him at Dere Auto, 1818 Rainier Ave. S).
Catherine, Leo, and I all thought that the smoke must have
been the brake pads burning; it smelled like it. But when Leo
took the car out for a ride and put it up for a diagnosis,
he determined that it was the clutch, which had smoked because
I’d gunned it up a bunch of steep hills. It didn’t
need any fixing, he said, and handed me the keys. He could
have “fixed” something that didn’t need fixing;
lots of mechanics would have. I felt great when I drove away.
When we got to my house, I asked Catherine a lot of questions.
What fun it was listening to her stories, watching her videos,
and looking at her paintings and photography online. www.catherinebuchanan.com
I felt lucky to have made a new and interesting friend.
The third thing happened the next day. I learned how to access
the stats for this site. Following the directions, I clicked
a few times and there they were. In the month of August
there were 2,556 unique visitors; and, since January, there
have been 17,488. In the last twenty-five days, people
in 52 countries have clicked-on this site! Wow. I’m not
sure what I expected, but I have to say that it’s pretty
exciting to know that so many people around the world have
And then last night I went to an event at Earthcorps. It’s
a hard-working group that puts together some amazing young
people (between 18 and 25) who do environmental, cooperative
projects. But I have to digress a bit before I talk about what
it was like when I walked into their event.
In March of 2006, I gave a talk at a class in Plymouth Church
in downtown Seattle. Patricia Belyea had read the nomad book
and invited me to address her class for women: The Next Fifty
Years. I mentioned to the group in passing that I was about
to leave for Tanzania. The next day I got an e-mail from Ann
Lawrence who had been in the class. She wrote about Allan,
a young man from Tanzania who had lived in Seattle for more
than a year, working with Earthcorps. Now he was back in Tanzania.
Everybody in Seattle loved him, she said; and she gave me his
e-mail and phone number. I wrote immediately.
Allan wrote back saying he’d love to show me his country.
Then he asked, “What are your intentions while you are
here?” I hit reply and explained that I was committed
to teach and talk for one or two weeks in the International
School of Arusha…and then I wanted to live in a village
with a family and learn some Swahili. His response was that
his mother and father were eagerly awaiting my arrival!
I lived with Allan’s family for more than three months.
Mother, father, brothers, sister, auntie…….they
were great. They became my Maasai family and my visit to Tanzania
was amazing because of them.
OK. Now back to Seattle. Here I am, a year later, renting
a house in the Mt. Baker section of town when an invitation
to a pot-luck block party is slipped under my door. I go, carrying
some lasagna on a tray. I don’t know a soul, but I begin
talking to neighbors, one at a time. About an hour into the
event, I’m talking to a woman who says, “Oh, I
know you. You must have just come back from Tanzania.”
It was Ann Lawrence! The Ann Lawrence who was responsible
for my extraordinary introduction to Maasai life. She lives
down the street!
Two nights ago Ann took me to that Earthcorps event. I loved
being there. What a great group! Young Americans and lots of
youth from other countries, all very much part of a team. You
can feel the spirit. All colors, all eye-shapes, lots of different
first languages……everyone young, enthusiastic,
and outgoing. There was a strong feeling of brother- and sisterhood
in the air as we ate dishes from many different cuisines. And
there was laughter and music and high energy afterwards as
we participated in songs and dances from Brazil, Bolivia, the
Philippines, and Ghana. In Seattle!
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