October 5, 2022

Thoughts on Eating: The Cafe Years

I've been cooking a lot more of these last two years during the pandemic - L
asagna, spanikopita, chicken cordon blue, bone broth, and of course ubiquitous quiche

I look up recipes online but fail to bookmark them, so each time I want to make a bechamel, I have to look it up again. Not that the trusty Joy of Cooking is moldering on the kitchen counter mere inches away, but it’s not the same joy.

In 1997 I bought out my business partner and took over the cafe. I'd make and serve at least fifty meals a day - five days a week - that's a thousand a month, over the next two years. That's 24,000 meals. Pretty much that's when I stopped cooking for myself.

"There's no romance in mopping a floor," my Dad would say. Owning the cafe was work. I had to get there by 6:00 a.m. to cook forty strips of tempeh for the ubiquitous Yukimochi sandwiches, our best seller. The tempeh was cold and slimy, a task I detested. 

I slashed the menu in half, got rid of all the single ingredient items, and reduced the staff. Finally the cafe started to break even, if not make money. Still it was endless runs to Costco for supplies, New Leaf for rice dream ice cream, Ledgers for a new appliance, usually a five thousand dollar espresso machine. I became friends with the drivers at Watsonville Coast Produce, the cooks at Aunt Nettie's Bakery, but never really got along with the health inspector, who would write us up if the fridge was off by half a degree, or the soap container in the bathroom was only three-quarters full.

My boyfriend (who used to be my girlfriend, that’s another story) did most of the cooking for the six years we were together, which I deeply appreciated. 
After we broke up, I lived a life between going out to eat and having Trader Joe's frozen lasagna. 

I'd pick my daughter up from Soquel High and we'd get lunch - Gayle's, The Bagelry, Carpo's - usually with enough leftovers for dinner. If I was alone, I'd graze - handfuls of sunflower seeds, raisins, almonds, dried apricots or simply cheese and crackers. It was years before I cooked anything more than the ubiquitous macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, and the occasional steamed broccoli.

September 28, 2022

Vivid Verbs

Welcome mat, searing her feet. 

Grease trap, broiling over. 

Old faded couch, peeling like a bad tan. 

Mincing down the street, the cat looked smashing. 

Peeling off her mask was the first step.

September 21, 2022

My Kitchen

My kitchen is always clean. Clean and tidy. Every morning I put away last night’s dishes, fill or empty the dishwasher, the ice cube trays, the little trap inside the sink. I scrupulously wipe down the counters for fear of ants, which arrive with the rains anyway. I turn the toaster oven from the Toast setting to Off because it makes a humming noise which my husband either can't or chooses not to hear. I eradicate down the sticky mess from last night's Masala curry, hunt down the escaped couscous which has hidden behind the coffee jar, sweep the floor of renegade garlic peels and coffee grinds, dust down the trash can and the pet food dispensers, start thinking about tonight's dinner, look through the fridge, the freezer, choose something to thaw. Could be quiche.

We rarely sit at the kitchen table - a big glass affair made out of iron ivy which I painted a glittery purple with bronzed Raku leaves. There's a green spider plant suspended from where the legs meet, a bitch to water. When I was in high school, family conversations were strained, and became more stressful as my teenage years progressed, so by the time I was a senior I would do anything to get out of dinner. It's no wonder that now we never sit at the dining table to eat.

Sometimes we'll do a puzzle on the table, or I'll pop one of Chip’s photography lamps underneath and turn it into a lightbox for an art project. It belonged to his mother, and he used to eat breakfast at this table when he was a child. Now it's the space for painting watercolors, paying bills, or simply being a clear surface, a place for the ephemera of life to land, emptying grocery bags or opening packages from Amazon.

I remember this table in Helen's house after she passed, then it sat in our backyard for years, the pale green paint slowly flaking off and rusting. I worried the cats would eat the paint flex and be poisoned, so sometime during COVID I sanded and painted, brought it into my office, and used it as my desk for the  ubiquitous zoom meetings.

At some point, when I decided to start offering Reiki again and needed space for my massage table. I sold the blonde wood kitchen table that I had bought at Sweets-In-The-Nude when I first moved here in 1994, but kept the chairs. Usually we have only two at the table - one of the others is upstairs in the bedroom for me to fling my work clothes on, the last one sits in the back room, a makeshift shelf for the box of stuff that Chip is supposed to scan, file, and shred. That's another story.

September 14, 2022


Hypnobirthing is "a method of managing pain and anxiety during childbirth, involving various therapeutic relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization."

I usually recommend doing at least three sessions for hypnobirthing. The first session is the "getting to know you" session, where I can answer questions and hear about your particular story, health history, and visions for your birthing experience. We will do a short (15-20 minute) guided meditation for deep body relaxation tailored to your needs. Partners are encouraged to participate in the process.

The next session would be midway to your due date, although some folks like to come in sooner. After checking in, we would do a longer hypnosis session, more like 45 minutes, to build up inner resources, release any fears or traumas, and focus on having the most mindful birth possible.

The third session would be closer to your due date, maybe a couple weeks out, depending on how you feel, We would create pain management techniques that will have been built upon the following two sessions - the body relaxation and positive visualizations. All the sessions will be recorded, so that you can listen to them at home for further internal reinforcement.

Here is more information/testimonials from my hypnobirthing clients

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

September 7, 2022

Thoughts on Birthdays


Thoughts on Birthdays 

My hubby and I are born one day apart, and our birthdays also coincide with our wedding anniversary, which always brings up the question, where do we want to go and celebrate?

As a kid we would go to Pizza Hut, but I liked the Orange Bowl pizza better. Then we moved to Europe when I was seven. I remember eating chicken soup with little stars and a tiny restaurant in Milan. We had fondue for the first time when the parents came to rescue me up from ski camp in France. Then there was the tiny preserved violet on top of the chocolate ice cream when we went to the restaurant in Germany, it was on the Rhine and you actually fished for your own trout.

We moved back to America when I was fifteen. In high school the big fancy dinners took place at Dominique's in downtown Washington DC, now closed. They used to have a sister restaurant in Miami which I went to once. They are known for their exotic fare, such as alligator and wild boar. Alligators taste like chicken, by the way.

Avanti became my favorite birthday restaurant when I moved to Santa Cruz, then became the monthly lunch place with Dad, who thought their food was very authentic. Avanti split into the pizzeria and the restaurant, moving into a second location which happens to be at the top of my street. Pizzaria Avanti has nettle pizza. Restaurant Avanti has a full bar. We started going weekly to visit our favorite bartender, Katie, and feast on steak salad and chicken fusilli. The new owners have a fried cheese dish that I could bathe in.

Maybe we'll go to the French Laundry one year. I've not really intrigued by their menu posted online, but it sure does get rave reviews as a unique experience. My daughter loved to go to La Fondue over in Saratoga every birthday, which is where we also celebrated her recent bethrothal.

August 31, 2022

Grandma's Got Tattoos


Written and Illustrated by Nona Kayla

Ernesto has been bullied for having a large birthmark on his face. He goes to Grandma for some comfort and words of calm advice. Grandma tells him a story of her own adventures about being different. She sets off on an adventure one day, with her faithful companion, June E. Purr. They overcome storms, blockages, and unusual encounters. Along the way she meets a helpful pant, a special animal, and personal guide who all help to build feelings of confidence, resourcefulness, and self-esteem.

August 23, 2022


Breathing your essence, 

Missing your presence, 

Longing for our reunion soon. 

You are quintessence, 

Deeply luminescent, 

Both my shining sun and deepest moon.