Friday, October 18, 2013

Bemvindo -- Mango, Coffee and Me

Mango, Coffee and Me


Welcome to my blog.  It’s going to be some fun!  Don’t expect to learn about crafts or emotional stability.  Nah!  Don’t have those things going on.  Do expect to laugh with me and wring your hands while I learn how to be a 60-something American woman living in upstate São Paulo, Brazil (no unfortunately it’s not Rio); what it’s like to retire and move overseas with nothing on my schedule (OK I’m lying - I have Portuguese classes on Monday and Thursday afternoons but only from 3 – 4 pm) after being a busy environmental engineer for ~30 years; what it’s like becoming a full time writer; and hopefully learn a little something about two things I love: cooking and keeping in shape at 60+.

There’ll be other stuff too – things that I care about and maybe you do too:
Life transitions; love; family; social equity; health and aging; local culture (local being wherever I happen to be…); people and places – I’ll try to steer clear of politics but it’s a big world out there….  There will definitely be some poetry (but don’t expect T.S. Eliot) – I started writing poetry about 20 years ago when my busy working mother’s life didn’t have time for much other writing.  Here and there I will include photos since Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  I’m no professional – in fact my usual camera is my iPhone – but bear with me.  And of course, over time I will travel to other places too. 

By way of introducing myself:  Like many women in my generation I spent the past 30 some years raising children; helping to care for aging parents; working hard at my job; and being part of my large family and extended community.  I am happily married.  Together we have two children – both adults now and both living in California.  Our older child, our son is happily married to a wonderful woman.  Our daughter is not yet married but lives with her boyfriend of three years.  

Why Mango, Coffee and Me?

My permanent home is Seattle – the Starbucks capital.  But in truth I love coffee and loved it long before Starbucks spread globally.  I think the Italians were there first!!  I own not one but three Italian espresso machines…they are members of the family!  I had my first cup of espresso when I was 14 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada where my Mum’s best friend was an Italian woman.  I simply don’t get up in the morning without knowing that a delicious café com leite or a latte is available.  Why bother?  And the mango part?  What is not to like about anything to do with mangos?  Mangos have luscious colors and taste like the tropics.  And that is where I live right now.  And the me?  Well you’ll get to know me!

How did I get to Brazil?  

The story began in 1968 when my husband, Jeff saw the movie Orféo Negro/Black Orpheus.  Jeff was in California at the time…and I was in New York.  We would not meet until eight years later.

In1976 when I was a graduate student in limnology – the study of freshwater systems – I attended a scientific conference in Georgia.  I met Jeff in passing and heard from him that he was planning an expedition to Brazil.  Cool I thought to myself…never realizing that 18 months later, while 3,000 miles apart, Jeff and I would fall in love.  But we did.

Jeff lived in Seattle.  I moved there and finished graduate school in engineering.  I began a career as an environmental engineer specializing in water quality and hydrology.  We married in our friends’ backyard.  I had flowers in my hair and my older sister made my bridesmaids’ dresses.  We have lived in the same house in Seattle since 1979 – we brought our two children home from the hospital there and they both went off to college from there.  Now 35 years later, we live in Brazil, while young friends – graduate students themselves – look after our house.

Jeff and I do not have grandchildren yet but hopefully we will one day.  All four of our parents are dead – amazingly all gone after living full lives.  Jeff is an international scientist who is leading a project in Brasil that evaluates the hydrology and geochemistry of the lower Amazon River – including what the effects of climate change might be on this globally important system.  The Amazon carries more than 20 % of the world’s freshwater and influences global climate patterns!  The project is in cooperation with the University of São Paulo and several state and federal universities in the lower Amazon.  That is how I got to Brazil.

So hello.  Welcome to my blog.  I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope to hear from some of you! 


  1. I'm looking forward to your posts! Your 1st one is awesome.

  2. Thanks Dana -- looking at goal of posting once a week on Wednesdays...suits me since it is quarta feira -- the fourth day -- and four is my favorite number!

  3. This looks great! Can't wait to keep reading :)

  4. This is a great blog thus far! Love all the information and you paint a beautiful Brazilian picture with your words!