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Kindling Travel

La Noria

La Noria (XLVI), Antonio Machado, 1907

La tarde caía
triste y polvorienta.

El agua cantaba
su copla plebeya
en los cangilones
de la noria lenta.

Soñaba la mula
¡pobre mula vieja!,
al compás de sombra
que en el agua suena.

La tarde caía
triste y polvorienta.

Yo no sé qué noble,
divino poeta,
unió a la amargura
de la eterna rueda
la dulce armonía
del agua que sueña,
y vendó tus ojos,
¡pobre mula vieja!…

Mas sé que fue un noble,
divino poeta,
corazón maduro
de sombra y de ciencia.


A Fatty’s Feelings on Food

I know you’re curious…you clicked because you can do so in privacy.  No one has to know of your curiosity on the taboo topic of the feasting feelings of your heftier counterparts.

I can’t speak for all heavyweights, but I can speak for myself.

Let’s start off and lay it all out on the table, unlike your last favorite presidential candidate or your most recently failed relationship.

I’m not full of surprises.

Or maybe I am.

But I want us to have a good relationship.

I’m a pleasantly plump girl.  Naturally, I love to eat.  But not in the way you’d be quick to assume.  I love the social experience, the nearly orgasmic moans rolling across the kitchen as forks penetrate mouths and culinary delights spread across palettes.
I’m depressed when I don’t feel hungry only because I just want the world’s flavors to nestle on my taste buds.

I’m a good girl.  I’ve got a strong faith.  I’m abstinent until I’m hitched.
But I seduce with food.

I just love food.  I have no training, no in-the-kitchen-with-grandma-recipes.  I grew up on a potholed street in a house insulated with quilt batting.  We ate large pots of goulash or sloppy joes for dinner.  My dad told me how he used to hang with the kids down the street when he was growing up, and eat “Tyner Dinners” – elbow macaroni and canned tomato.

I’m not scientific.  All I know is what taste buds like.  I don’t know that aphrodisiacs are proven, but I know for me, moments are aphrodisiacs.  For myself.

At the heart of it all, I’m complex, layered (ogres have layers, you know).
I have constantly been told I view the world with different glasses, I see things in ways that most people don’t see them.

I’m in the kitchen at 1:30am during a thunderstorm blaring my favorite Enya song on repeat and kneading pita dough by hand.
By 3am, I’m snoring on the couch with my laptop sliding off my lap, and I wake up as Ted Allen enthusiastically dooms the next hopeful chef with those fateful words, “You have been CHOPPED.”

At work, I’m making a mental list of everything I need to get at the store on the way home…just a few produce items.
By the time I leave the store, I’m swearing under my breath as I chastise myself for one more ridiculous food purchase on the credit card, and as I carry four huge bags to the brim with groceries and wait for the bus under the 99 degree Utah sun.

But food is never ridiculous.  Food is beautiful.  Food is logical.  Food is divine.

I don’t own any fancy kitchen utensils.  No mixers, no food processors, no nice knives, no silpats.
Most of the time, I don’t even have parchment, and I’m almost always out of aluminum foil.
Just me, some steak knives left by old inhabitants of my rental home I share with three other girls, some tomato stained cutting boards, and music.

Oh, that’s when the magic happens.

The cursing comes to a stop when I lay my debtful buys out on the 70’s counter.  Our kitchen is as hot as the devil’s infant incubator, so I have approximately 37 minutes until all of my food withers and rots.  Better get to work.

The magic happens when I flip on my music…Spanish guitar playlist.  Golden sun leathering me to a crisp.
I plunge my hands in a bowl of foamy, yeasty water full of fava beans, waiting to be shucked.

Yes, shucked.

Food is about imagination, about making it your own.  Be a thesaurus and let the words flow from your mouth and imagination when you’re in the kitchen, even if you’re just unrolling a container of pre-made biscuit dough.

I hope this makes you feel that experiences with food are accessible, personal, possible.

This isn’t a cutesie blog with giveaways and contests.

This is me talking to myself, just like I do in the kitchen.
A hoarding place, a memory, a fiery corner of my brain.


She’s a moody one.

Today was my Monday, the start of a streak of four 10-hour shifts in the Interagency Visitor Center talking to hundreds of people daily about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Hiawatha National Forest and Grand Island National Recreation Area, along with a slew of random topics and questions that catch me like a whitetail deer about to jump to its death.

I was born and raised here in Munising, Michigan (population approx. 2,500), and after 23 years I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.  I grew up passing in and out of the Hiawatha National Forest on a daily basis and hanging out in the National Park in my free time without much thought.  Free days were spent swimming at Pete’s Lake, nights were passed eating chocolate ice cream and watching ore boats from the shores of Lake Superior and all-nighters were capped with sunrises at Miner’s Castle.  The nature has always abundantly shared its treasures with those of us blessed to have been raised in this place.  While I always freely took part and was a natural ‘flower child’ who ran to the forest a block away when she ran away from home, I never quite felt the heart of this place.

Seven years after my move and a B.A. in Spanish later, I found myself at liberty.  In true form, within a 24-hour period I had found, applied for, been interviewed for, and accepted an interpretive internship with the U.S. Forest Service sponsored by Hiawatha Interpretive Association.  I had no idea what that meant, but I knew I’d get four months to spend summertime in Northern Michigan. (You’re singing a Kid Rock song now, aren’t you?)

Today while meticulously maneuvering a sloppy joe in order to avoid spilling on my uniform, my lunch buddy Dick had come down and sat at the veneer table in the office basement.  Dick has been with the U.S. Forest Service for a solid 30+ years and is about to retire.  He always asks me how my internship is going, and today I told him I finally purchased my plane tickets to leave Michigan in September and return to Utah.  Dick himself will be leaving the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) after retirement and has shared how it breaks him to leave this place.

I empathized.

I told him how I never truly appreciated this small corner of the U.P. until I left, and especially until I came back.  This internship has quadrupled my knowledge of this area in just a couple months, and just as happens as you spend time becoming reacquainted with a stale, former lover, I have fallen desperately in love with this place two-fold.  I want to spend all my free time with it.  I want to explore its trails and get lost in its secrets.  I want to breathe in the damp smell of earth and leaf litter and the sour smell of ripening berries.  I want its humid arms to caress my skin and heal my wounds.  I am obsessed and infatuated.

sand point

Breathing in Superior


Dick asked me what my bucket list contains for the remainder of my time here.  I rambled off a list of hikes, hopes of recreating, and a possible further exploration of Grand Island.  I shared my experience meeting the Grahams and being invited into their home at the North Light.  Mr. Graham had stated that it was too bad the sun wasn’t shining while I was there as it makes the cliffs shine.  Being a gray weather girl, I told him how it was perfect weather for me, because it really captured the unique mood of Superior.  Dick and I mused over the individual beauty of Munising with its layers and dimensions of various shorelines jutting out in front of one another to create an incredible harbor.  I told Dick stories about how I loved visiting Lake Superior beaches in dreary weather because she is violent and saturated in mood and color.  She’s Aphrodite on a beautiful day, with the capacity to morph into Medusa.

five mile

Temper Tantrum


Upon sharing this, Dick flattered me with the following:
“You really get the moods of the Superior.  Not a lot of people do, but I can tell by how you talk that you really understand the Lake”.

In that moment, every memory of time spent on Superior flooded my mind and I felt latched on to this place.

I also felt confirmation that this was a perfect example of why I started this writing project: I hope that by sharing the world through my Smokey-colored glasses, I can inspire others to feel and experience nostalgia and to have a desire to cultivate a rooted appreciation for simplicity and beauty in the ‘everyday’.

Leaving the Hiawatha feels like willingly exposing an open sore, but as is tradition, I remain warmed and inspired by the memory of people and place and stripped for the next chapter.

Kindling Nostalgia

Middle of the Beginning

A sandy beach on Lake Superior.

A buoy dinging in adagio rhythm.

A gentle breeze syncopating the waves.

Zero light pollution, the Milky Way splitting the sky, and a faint curtain of northern lights spotlighting above Grand Island and prancing over the dark northern horizon, Capella at their core.

I come here to slip away under the enormous planetarium above, dissolve into the sands of time.

There are no demands, no expectations,
just my breath in harmony with the spectacular scene majestically turning around me,
validating the importance of my presence in that very place
and the greatness which lay ahead.


Food & Ardor: Free Admission


Chow. Fare. Eats. Bites. Grub. Cuisine (best French word, ever).  Slop. Provisions. Rations. Sustenance.  Goodies.

We all love it…well, except you weirdos who eat solely for the purpose of survival.

Pleasantly plump, like yours truly.  Thin.  Average.  Athletic.  Chunky.  Tall.  Short.

Food is always crossing our minds in some form.  We either love it, fear it, don’t trust it, or live for it.

Me?  I’m not a chef.  I view myself simply, humbly, pretty plain Jane.  I’m a woman of extremes, of passions – seemingly indecisive, but just yearning for room to fill to capacity and overflowing with everything I love and experience.

My mind is a racetrack, an obstacle course, a third grade playground.  Thoughts of walks in the forest give underdogs to a middle school slumber party, and before I have time to ask if I can play with them, they bolt over to the tetherball pole to smack around the hilarious away message on AIM from November of my freshman year in college.  Together they rally up the most endearing moments of my relationships and play Red Rover with that insane Couch Surfing experience in Madrid and the time I peed behind a twiggy bush in an alleyway in Poland; my childhood fort is left standing alone on its own team and loses.  In a flash, they all cross the monkey bars on their way to the tallest slide on the turf, taking with them all the butterflies in my stomach and the time I wore a hunter orange helmet while muddling in a jeep in the woods.  They all giggle and scream, pushing each other out of the way to race to the top of the slide and crash down in one big pile on top of my first kiss.

There is no indecisiveness here, only an index full of passion and nostalgia.

Over the past few years I have found that I can give life to nostalgia in the kitchen.

Have you ever had a Ratatouille moment?  You know, where you bite into something delicious and hitch a ride in a DeLorean back to one of the most perfect memories that recalls to your memory in that moment?  Or perhaps you’ve boarded a hovercraft and sped forward to an exotic destination you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  Maybe you’ve basked in the sun at the park and sworn you felt that beloved ex lying next to you talking or you’ve imagined yourself in Scotland on a rainy day.

If you’ve experienced any of these moments, you’ve experienced nostalgia.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to hop a plane every time I want a moment.  I can’t always be in my childhood home, or on a Mediterranean beach with an attractive Greek man wearing linen pants and serenading me with a cello, back-dropped by an Adriatic sunset (yes, I just mixed three points of Geography there).  However, I can live in the moment.

And those moments happen in the kitchen.

They happen in every knead, punch, slice, pinch, garnish, sprinkle, degree, sear, mix, beat, fold, measure, leisurely pour.

This is a place of my experiences, my thoughts, my memories, my nostalgia, my recipes.  My delights as I listen to Enya while make pita bread at 1am during a thunderstorm.  My sorrows as I eat an entire Cadbury chocolate bar and mix a giant spoon of non-natural peanut butter into a tub of vanilla ice cream and swirl it around until my bad day disappears into a pool of melted Haagen Dazs.  My longings as I chow on a flat of fresh figs.  My quiet desires as I practice “normal ingredient” meals for the day I could be a domestic housewife.

Who am I kidding?  I’ll never be fully domesticated.  There’s too much intrigue, too much opinion for me to just sit back and make green-bean-and-cream-of-mushroom-soup casseroles all day, waiting for my husband in my pearls and vintage dress.

I don’t wear pearls.  I don’t do canned vegetables.  And chances are – if that day comes – I’ll be holding said casserole in a Le Creuset, wearing some lacy racy black get up appropriate only for maximum wear time of ten minutes or less.  Vintage schmintage.  Whoever he is, he may not like chevre and arugula, but I’m sure he won’t have a problem with it.

I’ve never been conventional.

I’m a good, wholesome girl.  But the golden sweat?  The yearning?  The flame?  The eccentricity?

Welcome to my kitchen.



Comentarios Literarios Hispanoamericanos del Siglo XIX.

Sounds sexy, right?

If you don’t speak Spanish, pretend like you’re in a Taco Bell commercial, then say it again.

This class is a contradiction, like all of my experiences in Spain thus far.

The roughest class I have this semester.  Interesting, but let’s be honest: I have no idea what the Helsinki Finland is going on.  Our professor mentioned that on the final we won’t have any reading samples from what we read in class, but we will have to identify the author of readings that we did not discuss in class.  Makes sense, right?

The teacher is a beautiful Spanish woman – thin, great boobs, gorgeous mop of morning-after curls, trendy, a smooth voice and an incredible passion for her field of interest.

In this classroom we have a hearty mix of students.  There are but a couple of us that are not Spanish.  And then you have your popular Spanish girls, your awkward wannabe popular Spanish girls, your token hipster, a middle-aged non-traditional student, a couple loners, and one single male student.

This post is dedicated to him.


About a month ago, we were reading the 1839 piece “El Matador” by the Argentine author Esteban Echeverría.  I remember that day in class vividly because it was the day my innocent American hormones went AWOL and became intoxicated by the literary sangria of Spanish culture.  It was not only the first day of the semester the professor asked for class participation due to a losing battle with laryngitis, but it was the day she called on Rodrigo.

Rodrigo…Rodrigo.  Each time that name rolls around the hollow of my mouth, I trade in cotton pajamas for black lace lingerie.

Rodrigo sits in the front row every day donning his coke bottle glasses and clad in sweaters, khakis and loafers.  He nervously bounces his legs under the table as he holds a bottle of medicated lotion he frequently applies to his flaking, red, patchy, burned skin.  He’s always the first and only to interject a commentary in class.  Clearly, he spends his free time pouring over these obras with his lit major friends; everyone knows who they are because the small handful of them hang around in the hallway between classes, sitting in archaic window sills next to the classroom and chatting quietly about what I – as the daydreamy foreign student – imagine to be planning sessions for poetry reading and wine nights at a local underground bar.

They’ve got this vibe of coolness.  Geek chic.

But oh, Rodrigo.  I was on to him.  His savage afro of sandy brown curls hinted to his secret.

On that day – that day when I became a real woman – I knew why this boy’s mother named him Rodrigo.

Profesora Gil asked Rodrigo if he would read.

This sweet dork-of-a-guy pushed his glasses up high onto the bridge of his nose, stood up and walked right to the projector screen where he planted his nose so he could see the already enormous letters.

And then he began to read.


…what was this feeling?!?!

I lost all control over my ability to focus.

I squirmed uncomfortably in my chair.

I felt the words rip open my chest and plunge their primal hands into the core of my soul, the factory where raw emotion and carnal desire is manufactured.


I was confused.  Here I was staring at the Spanish equivalent of Steve Urkel, but having a lustful affair on my own personal cover of a Harlequin romance novel.

Rodrigo became the author with a quill by candlelight, glancing over at the love of his life wrapped in a sea of white linen, quietly resting on the bed.  Rodrigo read like a debonaire, deliciously exotic Spaniard whispering sweet nothings into my ear.  Rodrigo was Brendan Fraser taming horses in George of the Jungle, except in this version Rodrigo was taming wild lines of poetry.  (If you are unfamiliar with this scene in George of the Jungle, you must watch it…it’s a hot, comedic, melodramatic moment.)  This nerdy kid beneath the plastic frames swallowing his face transformed into the most sensual guy I’ve come across in Spain.  His voice read each word with the longing and sensuality of an unfulfilled love, holding and caressing each one individually as if each line was his lover.

Please hold while I sit very unladylike and let a draft lower my body temperature just a little before continuing.

There are no words in English or Spanish that will do justice to the beauty that Rodrigo conveyed.  His voice trumped all prejudice the world may throw at him.  Beautiful.  Tender.  Tranquilizing.

Now when I’m wandering the second floor on campus, I’m secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of him.  And when I do, I’m twittered, even if just from the mountain of respect I have for his knowledge and passion of written word, and his amazing ability to read even the most confusing texts so beautifully and deliver their meaning with such devotion.  And sensuality.  Let us not forget that little gem.


Way to go, Rodrigo.
Ten points to Gryffindor.