the continuation and re-ending of Otter and Seal

So, when my longtime partner in crime Sencha Mujer Otterchoa departed Olympia, I didn’t expect we would ever occupy the same city again. Ergo, her relocation to Australia was a welcome and surprising delight.

I’m never at a loss for amazement that sometimes you get to share life with people who are so magnificent. This one is ready to join in on any adventure I might imagine. Prepared to propose adventures which I wouldn’t imagine. Ready with pizza upon my landing[s] at [all] the airport[s]. And soup on my sick days. And cookies before I crave them. And tea when I awaken. (We like food.) And surprises for no reason. Ready with patience when I’m grumpy. With energy when I’m exhausted. With encouragement when I’m defeated. With solid advice and understanding for any situation I fall into. With enthusiasm every day of the week. Ready for chips (fries), always.

I think relationships at their very best look like people allowing each other to be themselves, uncompromisingly. Creating an atmosphere that is both comfortable and safe for the other to flourish. Being both encouraging and challenging. That’s exactly the space we’ve had in Melbourne (and beyond). Such a beautiful foundation for intentional and incandescent living. I’ve felt so nourished and supported. So ready to exist fully.

This past year has seen a lot of kilometres of gorgeous landscape and fun experiences on the road. It has also seen days and weeks and months of simple life conducted out of a cozy [partial] home. It has been an exceptionally creative time for me (I think it’s safe to say for both of us). Creative cooking based on whatever seasonal, local produce we’ve found delivered in our CERES boxes. Gourmet road trip meals mostly-suited to the desert, or to the bone-deep winter of Tassie. Sewing projects beyond my experience, painting, card games, reading and other shenanigans at Bar Josephine. Filling scrapbooks from an entire country. Braiding, knotting, macrame-ing a sea glass toned collection of anklets. Threading together film clips of a gorgeous island state. I struggle with motivation, often. But this year has been so full. Of experiences. Of growth. Of satisfaction. I attribute this to having a really solid foundation. One which was created, significantly, by this gorgeous friendship. By this caring and conscious individual. It feels good to be ready for life. It feels good to have the energy and the space to live well. And while Melbourne is filled with so much excellence and so many stellar people of it’s own accord, it is this human, as always, who has filled so much of my heart. And filled my life with so much more than I would’ve had on my own.

Thanks Mujer for a year of epic goodness. Thanks for making me more me. Thanks for changing the fabric of this city for a year. I love you endlessly.

As a side note that deserves (and will have) its own note (eventually): While we’ve created our own precious space, we’ve also had so many people adopt us into their homes and their lives, and we wouldn’t have loved this place so much without all of you who have been there for us. Our hearts are full! 💕



the crumpet fiasco

Somehow I had gotten it into my head that crumpets would be an excellent road trip food. Not like, store bought crumpets. No. Crumpets from scratch. So in our trip preparations we bought egg rings and yeast and Sunita dutifully let me make my usual overambitious and absurd plans. However, the desert is decidedly less ubiquitous with its gas bbqs than other parts of Australia. So I had been putting off the crumpet endeavours. But after a full day of hiking and swimming and being in the sun, making and eating real food sounded like a hassle. And for once we had heaps of daylight left after arriving at our roomy desert camp for the evening. I decided today was the day. The day for crumpets. The perfect road trip food.

So I retrieved my little handwritten recipe and set about the process. Our soymilk was cold and I needed warm milk for yeast activating purposes. I could’ve used our camp stove. But instead, I set the container I had chosen, our large jar normally reserved for iced tea (our best reprieve from the heat), on the hood of the car. Sunita noticed this, and suggested popping the hood instead. Which I agreed was, in fact, a superior method. So there we were with the hood open and a jar of yeasty sugar milk resting on our seemingly ever-warm engine. (A fellow camper checked to make sure we weren’t having car issues.) Next, everything else gets mixed in and then it rests for forty-five minutes and gets all fermenty. This was the point where I set it well away from us since the flies had taken particular interest in it’s rich, quickly souring aroma. Also, where I realized, in hindsight, that I should’ve halved the recipe. We’d be eating crumpets forever.

We were cramped together in the way way back of our Honda CR-V. It was too warm to be in the car, but the alternative – being outside, but covered in flies – was worse. Would you rather? In an almost unprecedented scenario, I’d choose heat. Anyways. It occurred to me, suddenly, the near certainty of this crumpet mixture rising beyond its vessel’s capacity. I braved the flies to check on it. Before even reaching it I notice the once flat top had become a bulbous mound. Damn. And then everything is moving in fast forward and I’m covered in a sticky fly-attracting white goo for the next hour. My elbows to my fingertips unusable for anything unrelated to crumpetry. Unsuitable really even for that. The batter covered tea towel gets left in the dirt, the ever erupting jar needs constant attention to keep the flies from claiming our precious crumpets-to-be as their own. Sunita prepares the stove and everything to start cooking this underdone concoction immediately. As It turns out, I wasn’t feeling patient enough to use the egg rings and make proper crumpets in these conditions. They were more like crumpet pancakes. Which, hybrid pastries are like a major trend right now, hey? Cruffins and cronuts and the lot. We didn’t have the means to properly clean the jar or the tea towel so they got disappeared into the roof pod for future us to deal with. Meanwhile the desert floor is dotted with little crumpet puffs that got smattered about (and cooked!) while I was attempting to both pour crumpet batter and swat away the damned flies. I’d like to say we had a nice meal of crumpet pancakes (Sunita didn’t appreciate the title of ‘crumpcakes.’) but realistically, as soon as the less-than-successful crumpets were slathered in butter and honey the flies became absolutely frenzied and we had to fight viciously for each bite. My hands were still covered in dried batter and plenty of red dust. Still, I licked the precious Tasmanian pepper berry honey from my fingers.

So yeah. I guess this is what we get up to. On our road trips. In the desert. Needless to say, I have conceded that crumpets are best left to a kitchen environment…


refugee heart

Refugees are so close to my heart these days. I think you have to care, if you’ve ever traveled. When you know so well the feeling of being in a foreign place. When you are surrounded by only the unfamiliar, and nothing but strangers. It is difficult and trying, to find your footing. It can be overwhelming and heartbreaking, and at times you think you will be unable, at last, to bear the challenges you face.

If you know my story at all, you know that I have been graciously fortunate time and again to have connections who have helped me in ways I cannot even begin to count (and possibly you have been part of that amazing network of humans at some time or another). Strangers across the globe have opened their homes to me, given me directions, given me lifts, invited me to share meals with them, welcomed me into their community and introduced me to their friends, helped me find a job, invited me to have a coffee, helped me find a home, and treated me as a dear friend or close family.
I just cannot emphasize how heartening it is, how absolutely life changing it is to have people show up for you and offer to be there in very small and in very large ways. Especially when you are so far from everything you know.
And I am merely a traveler trying to experience the world. Whereas refugees are, by definition, people who have been forced to leave their homeland due to severe hardships. I can’t imagine how it must feel to leave your home not by choice, but by necessity, in order to continue just to live. I can’t comprehend how difficult it must feel to find yourself in a foreign land, surrounded by the unfamiliar, after escaping something certainly horrific and tragic. And in addition, unlike what I have experienced, many refugees find themselves unwanted, judged, and uncared for. It must feel so hopeless. My heart is, solidly, with every human who has had to leave their precious home behind.

I think platforms such as this are incredible, and I hope to participate as soon as I am capable. In the meantime, let’s all maybe try to take the time to understand what is happening to those around us. Hear their stories before making judgements. I think it’s important to love and care for any human who crosses your path. But particularly those who aren’t currently in a position to care for themselves. These people need a community to welcome them in. I know that includes me. Maybe it includes you, too?

More love and understanding, always.

two zero one six

thirty-four things to do before I die:

1. hitchhiking across the United States, and all of the wonders therein.hitchhike2. seeing Thoth & Lila Angelique in person (after a decade of anticipation).thoth3. attending a mewithoutYou show, at very long last.mwy4. taking the exquisitely scenic train across Canada.canada5. visiting Australia (new country, new continent).australia

bonus items:

I. surprise trip to Florida to see some of my very favorite humans. (and The Top!!)gainesvilleII. revisiting the ever charming Astoria (and its seals!) with Jeremiah.
astoriaIII. roadtripping New England/visiting Vermont: land of Vil, with Sunita.vermont-ii
IV. spontaneous Port Townsend/couchsurfing-with-new-friends trip.ptii
V. taking on the northwestern northwest for Kate’s birthday adventures.nwnw
VI. attending the Pemberton music festival (as a VIP!) with Corey and Stazzie.pemberton
VII. finally making it to the Bahamas (new country) with Corey and Stazzie.bahamasVIII. eventually completing the Mosa Lina road trip via reuniting in long lost

I, for one, have had a stellar year.

very well then

The A to B of getting to Melbourne from Toronto was objectively probably one of the worst travel experiences I’ve ever had. Unpleasantries arose during every leg of the journey. From sitting in that row of screaming kids (I get it, it happens, it can’t be helped), to New Zealand confiscating my deodorant for no good reason, to being in the middle seat on the twelve hour stretch overseas (and the widow seat passenger taking up half of my legroom in addition to his own). All around it was almost laughable how many frustrating scenarios popped up. But even so, I mostly kept my cool despite the circumstances. Giving in to feelings of frustration never made anyone any happier. Certainly not me.

I had been kind of nervous about dealing with customs in Australia. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to get a visa, but it’s the first time I’ve been on a non-strictly-holiday visa. And the approval process was way too easy. Disconcertingly so. What government approves your visa application the same day you submit it? (Australia’s, apparently.) Anyways, I’ve been shelving for months this slight fear that there was some sort of misunderstanding. And I wondered if I would be like detained and questioned and asked for ten thousand documents (which I had with me, ready to present, damn it). But I was barely at the immigration counter for thirty seconds before they dismissed me and I was magically a resident of Australia. I was acquired from the airport by the lovely Anna, whom Sunita and I were charmed by and enamored with pretty immediately upon meeting a few years ago when she couchsurfed with us in Olympia. She’s one of those people with whom I only spent a smattering of [much too short] days. But I knew with absolute certainty that Anna was someone that I trusted, and respected, and cared about, and would be thrilled to have more present in my life. She’s one of those women whom you hope to be shaped by. And so coming to Australia was exciting in itself, but getting to share a city with Anna was definitely as enticing as anything else this continent has to offer.

At Anna’s house we were greeted by her sister, Nelly, their housemate Liz, the dogs, Bear and Sophie (and the budgie, Caterpillar), and coverage of the American election in progress on tv. To my surprise and amusement, Nelly and Liz were sporting anti-Trump and pro-Hillary shirts, respectively. Liz was sprawled across the floor compiling a state by state chart of the progress. Hillary was currently in the lead. Various members of the household disappeared for a few hours, and I settled into the little sunroom bedroom nook Anna had created for me to reside in until the housing I would inhabit for the next few months was available. img_5405Liz returned with beer, and we ordered pizzas to finish the election evening. By now Trump was in the lead, and it was seeming pretty final. Nobody in this household was impressed by or excited about the results, and I was surprised to find over the next several days how invested Australians in general felt about the American election. Young Australians, especially, were just gutted by the outcome. Upon waking the following morning, I knew that as an American, arriving at this particular time, I would have a lot to answer for. This has proven true. Everyone I have conversed with for more than a few sentences is curious about my opinion on the matter. To be honest, I used to be shy about claiming to be a US citizen while in foreign lands. But I’ve found that most people I encounter in this world are willing to take me as an individual, who has certainly been shaped by, but is not defined by my country of origin. I am thankful for this. Particularly now. I don’t want to go on a political rant, but for the purpose of my situation and my story in this current place and time, some political delving is relevant. So I’ll say this: Donald Trump may have been elected as the president of my country of citizenship, but he does not represent me. And he is a poor representation, if that, for many of the people I am proud and glad to know, including, I’m quite sure, some people who voted for his presidency. I mean no disrespect to those who did vote for Trump, my point is I wouldn’t sit down to dinner with the man (that probably isn’t true…love and understanding and all that, but I wouldn’t like to), but I imagine I know quite a few who supported him whose dinner tables I have frequented. All of this to say: I’ve come to consider my traveling (and this, my residence in Australia) to be a subtle form of ambassadorship for my country. A means of connecting and knitting together the world, individual to individual from one country and culture to the next. I don’t fit the stereotype of An American Girl (I’m told this, by surprised foreigners, frequently), and I am far from the poster child of a resident of Donald Trump’s America. And so I hope that my interactions – with anyone who lacks an intimate knowledge the United States – portray a kind, caring, understanding, thoughtful, open minded, not-only-tolerant-but-embracive, passionate, engaged, diligent, calm, peaceful, globally conscious and concerned individual. That is to say, I hope I challenge the stereotype. I hope to show people that while there are people who fit into the American generalizations, there are others who certainly do not. We contradict ourselves; we quite literally contain multitudes. Donald Trump’s election to presidency, and most assuredly his actions throughout his term will promote a lot of conversations for me here. A lot of opportunity for discussing similarities and differences between the US and Australia and elsewhere. Discussing likes and dislikes and failures and potentials and hopes and fears. It’s certainly an interesting time to be living abroad.

Politics aside, my first weeks here have been comprised in part of just chilling and being still and enjoying not moving from one place to the next after three months of such. In part of getting stuff done. With some exploring and socializing thrown in as well. I was surprised by how delighted I was to have new clothing in my wardrobe after three months of wearing the same few outfits. And I’ll say, too, that my luck with finding second hand clothing (that both fits and I like) in Australia has been superior to my American experiences (lookin’ at you Olympia Goodwill). I’ve had some stellar, albeit expensive food. After multiple instances going to cafes with people who’ve said, in response to my not drinking coffee, ‘but will you at least try it?!’ I have, I’ve added coffee into my diet, after long, stubborn years of disinterest. Not that the coffee itself is superior, but I think I like the forms in which Australians drink their coffee better. That, and tea is weirdly more expensive than coffee here. I have been truly surprised by how smoothly all of the official things I’ve needed to accomplish have gone. My first order of business was acquiring a new SIM. I decided on a pay-as-you-go plan and had it delivered in the mail. This, I used the following day to get a library card (which…I’ve used extensively). The mail and library card I used in combination to open a bank account. I filed for my tax number and it arrived soon after. Australia is an easy country to exist in. Anna, Nelly, and Liz were all quite thorough in orienting me to the culture in which I am now immersed. From explaining the trains and buses, to the avocado toast culture, to classic Australian musicians, to their new favourite game of ‘we’ll give you an Australian term, and you have to guess what it means.’ I feel prepared to be a resident without embarrassing myself too much.IMG_5498.jpg

hitchmerica: in words

8/1 intuition
8/2 pink
8/3 forbearance
8/4 confirmation
8/5 transversal
8/6 ease
8/7 ken
8/8 acquiescence
8/9 appreciate
8/10 exceed
8/11 imprudent
8/12 squall
8/13 advances
8/14 familiarities
8/15 rest
8/16 sufficient
8/17 rummager
8/18 work
8/19 ordinary
8/20 rumination
8/21 firstovers
8/22 cycle
8/23 perseverance
8/24 happenstance
8/25 heritage
8/26 omission
8/27 review
8/28 suppress
8/29 restless
8/30 return
8/31 settle
9/1 recurrence
9/2 voice
9/3 queasy
9/4 queasier
9/5 sonmi
9/6 fig
9/7 ruin
9/8 milkblind
9/9 picturesque
9/10 care
9/11 between
9/12 re
9/13 elements
9/14 processes
9/15 heights
9/16 unready
9/17 quintessentials
9/18 qualms
9/19 fry
9/20 marvels
9/21 perusal
9/22 stages
9/23 staples
9/24 felicitous
9/25 saturated
9/26 reset
9/27 imprints
9/28 confetti
9/29 echoes
9/30 preemptive
10/1 deluge
10/2 focus
10/3 tantalize
10/4 perezidence
10/5 drive
10/6 frustrate
10/7 takeoff
10/8 omnifecta
10/9 drizzle
10/10 poignancy
10/11 double
10/12 poise
10/13 unbeknownst
10/14 episodes
10/15 walk
10/16 counteract
10/17 decongest
10/18 culmination
10/19 tender
10/20 bests
10/21 sequence
10/22 interruption
10/23 garlic
10/24 conclude
10/25 fancy
10/26 candle
10/27 forecast
10/28 recharge
10/29 in situ
10/30 enough
10/31 storytellers
11/1 accept
11/2 unnecessaries
11/3 northerly
11/4 westerly
11/5 symmetry
11/6 significance
11/7 sensitivity
11/8 didn’t happen (due to time travel)
11/9 bittersweet


Boston was the failed city of the Mosa Lina road trip of 2013. It fell on our itinerary between New York City and Ohio. However, due to car issues leaving NYC, we just didn’t make it. We’ve been planning ever since to have a Mosa Lina reunion in Boston. However, whether for budget, timing, or whatever other usual excuses, we’ve not gotten around to it. Somehow though, the universe converged in October of 2016, and all four of us were able to make it to the elusive city of Boston.14560201_10154277013677034_5054336389961388308_oKristin and I were scheduled to fly out of Orlando late on the 7th. But Hurricane Matthew wrought literal havoc on those plans. Early morning on the 5th I received a call saying “for our convenience” our flight had been pushed back until the 9th “hope that’s okay.” Seeing as we had planned more than 24 hours in Boston, it wasn’t okay. After many phone calls back and forth amongst google sessions, we ended up canceling our tickets and rebooking flights out of the Tampa airport (the west coast of Florida was unaffected by the hurricane). Booking a flight less than two full days in advance wasn’t as awfully expensive as I would’ve expected. The really complicated part of this was that I had driven to Gainesville, and needed to get my brother’s truck back to Naples. Stazzie had a gig scheduled in Orlando, and I was going to catch a ride back with her. But her gig was also canceled due to the hurricane. And I had originally planned on hitchhiking back, but….it didn’t seem like the wisest decision considering the circumstances. I was having trouble finding a bus ticket back to Orlando, and finally realized (upon using Stazzie’s computer rather than my phone) that all bus service in Florida had been cancelled. Lovely. It turned out that Kristin’s area was going to have a curfew in effect, and so she ended up taking her cats and driving down to Naples. Which…got us back in the same city, but I can’t say was terribly convenient. I suppose it’s not a real trip back to the homeland if your plans aren’t thwarted by a natural disaster.

Anyways, all of this to say, the world was still trying to keep us from Boston. But we persevered. It wasn’t all bad though, because all of these complications did make it possible for me to see Andria [my kinda/sorta roommate for a few months in Gainesville a few years back] in Tampa for a few hours. Kristin and I were the first to set down in Boston. We arrived at 10 something pm, and were followed shortly by Christy. Cassie’s flight was even later, so the three of us got some much needed late night sushi. We met Cassie back at Kristin’s cousin’s apartment (aka our base for the weekend), and stayed up for hours talking, despite the communal fatigue.img_5208We had planned on taking the free walking tour the first day, but after our late night, all we wanted was just to sleep in. Which we did. Because we do what we want. Our slow morning led into a stroll to downtown with much appreciation of the gorgeous northeastern fall weather. The focus of this trip, other than just being together, was pizza. A proper pizza tour was on the agenda. We headed pretty quickly for the first stop, Galleria Umberto. Serendipitously it was the perfect introduction to Boston pizza. It was the simplest of the pizzas we ate, and it was perfection. Perfect dough, perfect sauce, perfect cheese. The hole-in-the-wall joint has no music, no frills, just exemplary food. Literally around the corner was Paul Revere’s house, which we stopped to see, but no one went in. Christy and I had been before, and Kristin and Cassie weren’t keen on waiting in the extensive line. So instead we went on a hunt for doughnuts, in which I didn’t partake. But Kristin loved hers and Christy was not impressed with hers. On our beeline for pizza we had passed a lovely park overlooking the harbor, and we looped back around to revisit, now with happy pizza filled stomachs. During the course of people watching and weather enjoying, we got it into our heads that we needed to find an Irish pub. So we gathered ourselves and found The Black Rose, whereby we got warming drinks and curry chips. Curry chips. Curry chips in the US. I had never thought it possible, but in almost no time we had fat, fried wedges of potato paired with a bowl of curry sauce. Boston was turning out to be all of my food dreams in one place.14566360_10207496805233904_8260471636219087934_o14595557_10157586373000581_6705806619136254950_nThere were a few things in Cambridge we wanted to see, so we headed that way, but got caught in a rain shower. We ducked into an MIT building and waited it out for awhile in a massive marble hallway. My stop in Cambridge was another graffiti alley, which was cool, but not the most extensive gathering of street art I’ve seen this trip. We pretty decisively decided we needed more pizza and set out for Regina Pizzeria, where we waited in line outside the building for probably half an hour before pizza was ours. We decided upon a veggie laden white sauce pizza, and a red sauce with fried eggplant. Both superb and satisfying. We took our leftovers, grabbed a bottle of wine, and took advantage of the rooftop of our building. Candlelit conversations overlooking Boston are a pretty phenomenal way to end a day.img_520914540617_603390793173697_109315554862432256_nWe had expected rain on Sunday, and it delivered. All day, without ceasing. We started the morning off with smoothies, you know, to balance out the pizza intake with something healthful. Our indoor activities all turned out to be tastings, but some of them didn’t work out as well as planned. You had to take a spendy tour of the Boston Tea Party Museum in order to partake in tastings of the teas that were dumped into the harbor. Which…we decided against. Harpoon Brewery’s next tour was at 4pm, and we had arrived at 1pm. So instead of waiting, Kristin and I decided to split a few flights. Christy got a phenomenal soft cinnamon sugar pretzel with peanut butter and pumpkin dipping sauces. We picked up more pizzas, these ones weren’t on the list of places I had researched, but I realized it was probably a better sampling to incorporate both researched and just-happen-to-be-nearby pizza places. From Babbo we got a goat cheese with pistachios, honey, and something truffle-y pizza, as well as a mushroom and smoked mozzarella pizza. We took these to GrandTen distillery and played games for the rest of the rainy evening.14516422_10154278600367034_1623596441525223506_n14650337_10207506080225773_449925922885469546_nMonday was our final day. We had tentatively re-scheduled our walking tour to today. Well, in our minds, anyways. I had forgotten this walking tour required reservations, and it was booked solid. So we walked the freedom trail on our own. First we were going to hit up the public library, except it wasn’t open, due to it being Columbus Day. Which…we don’t celebrate, but apparently other people do. I had awoken that morning with a fierce desire for a chai latte, and the others were pro-coffee, so we found a nearby coffee shop. It was a cold day, and the warmth was at least a slight boost on our walk through the Boston Common. We were stopped by two guys doing marketing research, and Christy and I participated in an interview involving financial questions, for which we received Starbucks gift cards. And then it was pizza time again. We decided upon another close by rather than widely known/highly rated place. Which turned out to be a great decision. It featured ginormous by the slice pizzas with the fluffiest crust you’ve ever seen. I think it properly prepared us for our historical stroll through Boston’s red-brick-lined freedom trail.14705088_1696403454011246_3492167200331005952_n14657275_10207512241819809_1833445255965218888_nChristy was flying out in the afternoon, so we headed back home and chilled for a bit. After we sent Christy off to the airport, Kristin, Cassie, and I headed to our airbnb. It was a private room in a shared residence, and we pretty much just got sushi and hung out in our room. Kristin left before Cassie and I awoke. And then Cassie and I parted ways when we reached the T station where I took my first public transport of the trip to get to South Station (we had been taking free Lyfts amongst our four accounts). I found a deli across the street and had a hearty omelette and home fries before my bus ride to New York City. It was a pretty nice ride, except for the nausea at some point in the middle. The trek from the bus station to Roosevelt Island and Sarah’s apartment was easy and familiar.

*most of the photos in this post are thieved from the other Mosas.