Spring update

Spring is here! Today I’m sitting around my apartment in a weird combination of sleeveless nightgown, scarf, and winter cap as it rains. But the green has finally come back to this part of the country–including in the little planters outside my front door!


(For those of you who know the Black Thumb Stephenson phenomenon, this is a big deal.) I’m growing my own herbs this year–basil, dill, rosemary, and cilantro.

The last few months have been good. New people, new ideas… Here’s what I’ve been up to since January:


image copy 4A friend in Carrboro mentioned she had a friend looking for a place to stay, so I agreed to meet him and see if we would get along. Enter Blake: a marvelous young man who stayed with me for a couple months in January-March.

Blake had come to the area seeking an apprenticeship in Asheville. He left Iowa determined to make his path as a creative entrepreneur, with very few possessions except an incredible intellect, drive to accomplish, and eagerness to put good into the world.

He transformed my place during his time here–taking it from an apartment to a true home. Some of my favorite memories include hearing him hum around the house, singing together in the car, and seeing his touches of creativity in my apartment and his design work. Blake is extraordinarily wise for his few years… I know he will continue to carry that gift with him and bring his light into other people’s lives. Thank you for all you did in my home, friend!!

Check out Blake’s design touches:

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(The curtains are made out of brown shipping paper, and the elephant was crafted by hand using only raffia string. Blake has some amazing gifts.)

English class

In February I started offering a free English class to the community. So far I only have three students–two of whom are members of my Spanish conversation group–but it’s been really fun. There’s Dayuma from Ecuador, Alfonso from Spain, and Somdra, a Buddhist monk from Burma.

We meet once a week for 1.5 hours and play games, practice conversation, and generally just goof around as much as possible. They’re a great group–we have a lot to learn from one another.

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I’m training for a mini-triathlon in mid-May. A friend from work, Melissa, invited some folks to join, so I thought, Why not? I’ve always been fascinated by the endurance aspect of triathlons–and this one is relatively short: a 250-yard swim, 8-mile bike ride, and 2-mile run.

Of course, I took my sweet time starting to train, but things are going well. This week I did my first run–one mile running, one mile walking, alternating each quarter mile. I’m most nervous about the running and bike ride; this week was pretty much the first time I’ve ever run for physical fitness. But it felt good to hit the pavement outside. As I relaxed my shoulders, I could feel my body slip into a natural flow. I’m feeling optimistic… one breath at a time.


This is my favorite part of this update! Ale and I met in September at a music festival in Carrboro. We didn’t keep touch until I started planning my trip to the Dominican Republic in November, when I invited him to have drinks so I could learn more about his hometown. (He was born in Constanza and finished high school in Bonao; when we first met and discovered we had common territory, no one could understand why we were freaking out.)

We’ve been together since the new year and are really enjoying our time together. We’ve gone to Asheville (skiing!) and New York; he’s an awesome travel companion. Ale is kind, brilliant, adventurous, sweet… we’re having a good time, as you can see from the smile on my face.

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A dear friend of mine who I used to work with, Kate, recently started classes for her master’s in nonprofit management. As part of her program, she had to work with a nonprofit organization to help them establish their foundational documents and apply for grants. So Kate and I have been working together since January to brainstorm what Cucuyo could look like in the future and see if we can get some funding to do the work. Kate’s exactly the kind of person you want on your team–smart, organized, a great listener. I’m thrilled I got to pick her brain this winter, and her input has been invaluable.

I never dreamed a new era of Cucuyo was possible until last year, when I met *two* people working for very similar organizations–both of which have paid full-time staff. We’ll see what happens, but I suspect my work with Cucuyo isn’t over just yet.

Thanks for reading…. wherever you are in the world, I send you my love.



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