On Stolen Coronavirus Supplies, Testing, and Death Counts

April 28, 2020

adult black and white darkness face
Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on Pexels.com

Good morning. I hope you are well, wherever you are. I have lots of questions this morning.

FEMA. We’ve heard the reports and complaints from state governors of FEMA stealing PPE from state purchase orders, and last night, Rachel Maddow reported FEMA had stolen millions of face masks from VA hospital PPE orders. Good Lord, that turns my stomach. Why can’t we stop these shameless profiteers? Are they hoarding supplies for the national stockpile while people suffer and die?

After Hurricane Maria devastated my beautiful Puerto Rico and many Caribbean islands in 2017, I had nothing good to say about FEMA and the Army National Guard. Their early failures and weak performance in Puerto Rico were mind-bending and unacceptable. I’d hoped FEMA had changed, improved, something, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. They’re not only failing the American people, they’re thieves. What else would you call intercepting hospital orders and hijacking much-needed supplies? Thankfully, the Army National Guard stepped up in a major way during this pandemic by building field hospitals and refurbishing hotels and the like in record time for coronavirus patients and patients requiring other medical services. That’s what organization, skill, and moving your ass looks like. I’m grateful for their help.

Have you noticed the CDC commercials running at night on MSNBC, if you watch MSNBC? That’s interesting because the CDC no longer gives briefings. Now they recognize six (or is it now seven) new symptoms of coronavirus. How do we know? Because the CDC posted the list of additional symptoms on their website: chills, muscle ache, headache, sore throat, repeated shaking with chills, and loss of taste or smell. Did you know? I didn’t. Sneaky. I had half of those symptoms from late February to a few days ago. I still have a cough (not dry) and today, my doctor urged me to get tested. Madre mia.

I wonder if this is a cover-your-ass type of situation by the CDC. The new symptoms would have been nice to know early on as they could have potentially saved thousands of American from dying after they were turned away from testing sites because they weren’t symptomatic with the original three symptoms: a fever, a cough, and difficulty breathing, which was tragically too late for some. And where is the World Health Organization these days, anyway?

Where is the US on nationwide testing? I know, I have lots of questions this morning. The FDA recently approved various tests and from what I’ve read are proving to be ineffective or unreliable. I thank scientists, lab techs, and their staff for working so hard to find accurate tests and a vaccine. Hurry, please. The lack of a vaccine and reliable, quick testing for all, compounded by a failing economy and loss of jobs and small businesses is the stuff of nightmares, tremendous fear, and simmering rage in this country. WHY are we not testing nationwide?

It’s very likely we may never know the exact number of confirmed cases and the exact number of those who died of coronavirus or coronavirus-related illnesses. Again, I’m reminded of post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico in 2017. The government lied about death counts that remained in the double digits for months when everyone knew the number had to be in the thousands. People were dying in alarming numbers and the morgues were full. I joined many fellow Puerto Ricans in suspecting the number was much higher, the numbers never added up. Three years after the monster storm made landfall, the exact number remains unknown.

So, will we see the same lies, corruption and hidden figures about deaths attributed to coronavirus after this pandemic? I pray a group of analysists can tackle that question before the next pandemic strikes the world. Each and every person who died during this pandemic matters. Their deaths matter and the fact that most died alone tears at my soul. No one should die alone.

Last night, a top Manhattan ER doctor tragically took her own life, preceded by the suicide of a Bronx EMT, who shot himself. Lord have mercy. The suffering our doctors, nurses, and health care workers are experiencing and enduring is unfathomable. It angers me that people still insist we must reopen the country, and how heartless are those who say doctors and nurses knew what they’d signed up for. Those type of comments are shockingly callous. No, they didn’t sign up for a horrific, seemingly never ending pandemic! I don’t know how they do it day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute. The only way to lessen their unGodly burden and to give them time to heal emotionally is for us to stay home. I don’t see any other way.

God bless and protect our doctors, nurses, health care workers, lab techs, mental health therapists, and scientists, who seem to be screaming into the abyss while Trump and the White House still refuse to listen or accept responsibility for their incompetence and callous disregard way before and during the horror show that is the COVID-19 pandemic. I doubt they ever will. Trump and the White House administration seem to ignore every report and everyone, and except for Andrew Cuomo and many governors, too many people are afraid of him. Can anyone explain why we can’t remove 45 from office now? I seriously don’t understand.

I’d like to end on a positive and hopeful note. Human trials with a coronavirus vaccine are underway by an Oxford University team and it looks promising. Hallelulah. They say the vaccine could be available by September. Although the UK and the Netherlands are gearing up to manufacture the vaccine (if it proves effective), the team says no US manufacturers have approached them. Why in God’s green earth are American and Chinese companies not joining in? Because they are also in clinical trials; it’s a race for the cure and the worldwide rights to the drug. Greed at our expense…again. Sorry, that didn’t end as positive or hopeful as I’d hoped.

Off to check the seed babies in the garden in my mask and gloves. Later this morning, I’ll have my first chat with an editor I’m hoping to work with. I’m more than ready to see THE LAMENTS in reader’s hands later this year. Fingers crossed and candles lit for that.

Be well and if at all possible, stay home. For those parents homeschooling (God bless you), baking cupcakes counts as math, reading, home economics, current events (food shortages and history) and geography.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with a lot of pride.

Still Working From Home: Thoughts and Tips

March 22, 2020

I hope this blog post finds you and yours healthy and safe. Without a doubt, we all feel a certain degree of anxiety about Covid-19; if not for ourselves, certainly for our children and loved ones. This morning, as is my daily habit, I enjoyed my first cup of coffee in my wicker chair on the kitchen patio. I listened to the birds, checked out the growth of the peonies, and minutes later, as I watched my puppy happily run around the yard like a little heathen, the surrealism of that moment struck me to the core. While everyone on the planet is living through a deadly pandemic and economic disaster, my flower garden and soon, my vegetable and herb garden, (and Sophie for that matter) will do what they do–grow and thrive. Life will go on and we will get through this horrible time, but no one knows when this will end and what the world will look like after this virus is either eradicated or disappears back into nature.

As I type this blog post, Republicans and Democrats are still debating a $1.8 trillion Senate-led stimulus deal for our economy. In the US, there are still not enough masks, ventilators,  or personal protective equipment for our doctors, nurses, health care workers, and mental health workers, who are heroes in my eyes. I would also add cleaning crews and those who work in grocery stores, restaurants, and banks. All heroes. The fact that the United States still doesn’t have enough Covid-19 tests for those who need to be tested is criminal. What the actual hell is going on? We are at war, for God’s sake. We’re in a global war against a deadly virus. I just heard that Trump decided to activate the National Guard and to enact the Defense Production Act. I’ll listen to that news conference a bit later to confirm. A step in the right direction, if he makes good on those decisions. Who the hell knows if it’s true or not.

On Friday, a psychiatrist who works at my daughter’s site in Northern Virginia (she’s a mental health therapist) resigned after citing concerns about inadequate safety in the face of Covid-19 in his county. Finally, the County approved teleworking for more sites, and it’s about damn time. My daughter’s workplace has been a major source of concern and unbelievable stress for her, her coworkers, me, and her brother, who lives and works in Bangkok with his girlfriend. This morning I learned their Bangkok work sites approved teleworking for their employees, thank God. My stress levels, which were creeping up last week, have lowered quite a bit. Everyone should stay home, if possible.

My weekend entailed making sure I have enough food and non-perishable goods, water, and dog food. I cleared the pine armoire in the kitchen of decorative items and cookbooks and turned it into a food pantry. I held each item in my hands and thought how wonderful, but useless they were, which is strange because I love antiques. Those things don’t seem to matter at this time.

This week, I’ll continue to listen to online meditations and keep in touch with my kids, my family, and friends. I’m researching which food items freeze well. So far, lemons, limes, and bananas are on the ‘yes’ list and dairy products and legumes are next. Of course, I’ll keep writing, which isn’t easy, but necessary for my sanity these days.

My tips for staying grounded during your quarantine:

Breathe. Read. Connect. Chronicle this time in history. Practice stillness. Share information. Read aloud to your kids or grandkids via Skype. Meditate. Pray. Write poetry or short stories. Learn a new language or a new skill. Paint your kitchen. Order seeds and potting soil. Start a vegetable and herb garden in your yard or in containers. Take up knitting or sewing. Draw and paint. Wash your hands. Organize your closet(s). Order a thermometer. Find a meditation video on YouTube. Consider ordering an inhaler, if you have respiratory issues. I ordered mine from Amazon. Write your Congressional representatives and your Governors with your current concerns, opinions, and needs. Stay informed of current guidelines and news from the CDC and WHO. Don’t wait for Trump to do what he should have done months ago to reduce the spread of this pandemic–protect yourself and your family, stay home and stay safe.

It’s important to remain positive, informed, hopeful, and safe. We must remember that during this challenging, scary time, our emotions will be up and down. I might be okay today and you need to express yourself, so I will listen. I might need that from you tomorrow. None of our emotions will match on any given day. Some of us deal by posting funny virus memes, others will feel the need to share what they hope is useful information, and others will post quotes and stories of hope and faith. Let’s be patient and kind to each other. We are doing the best we can with what we have, and we must not forget the most vulnerable in our society.

Oh, and happy book anniversary to my first novel! A Decent Woman is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, smile. Take good care of yourself.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

Thoughts on Writing, Loneliness, and Morning Pages

cropped-vscocam-photo-1.jpg
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” – Henry David Thoreau
After enjoying my daily hot water and meditation session, I realized I’ll celebrate a milestone in July. I’ve lived in this old house for a decade. A decade. That’s hard to believe. I have a lot to say today, smile.
While I love my period home and the life I created that allows me to write and to paint full time, West Virginia has never felt like home, certainly not my forever home. Virginia felt like home. Puerto Rico always feels like home, as well as Belgium and France. My kind neighbors were born in this city, and unlike me, their children and most of their family members live nearby. I have no family here. My children live in Northern Virginia and Thailand (which I visited last November), and my sister and her family live in Maryland. Close friends are scattered throughout the country and overseas, so in the summer months, I take a few road trips to visit friends and family, which I always enjoy. This summer will be no different. I’m looking forward to more happy times, creating new memories, and enjoying new adventures.
From my experience, fifteen years of experience as it turns out, writing books isn’t a life path conducive to a busy social life. I’ve become a happy loner, who enjoys working from home and loves writing books. No matter how lonely and isolated it may feel during the winter months, I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to live a creative life. In the past, friends have urged me to move back to the DC area and return to my job in social services. Though I love the DC area and the availability of great restaurants, museums, and cultural events, my friend’s urgency to “fix my problem” was met with much resistance. No way, I’m staying put. My life may be a quiet life, but it’s my life and I love it.
In January 2020, I realized it wasn’t necessary to subtract from my life in any way to feel happier–I needed to add. I acknowledged I’d become a homebody and less active in winter. I don’t want to meet for lunch dates or to date for that matter. I want to share evenings with like-minded folks and other creative people. What I needed was a creative tribe. Bingo. I ordered my fifth copy of Julia Cameron’s seminal book on creativity called The Artist’s Way (TAW) and then I called two friends to join me in forming a new group. They passed the word along in their social circles, and I created my first Facebook event.
Why do I purchase a new copy of TAW for each group? Because each time I “do” the book, I’m a different person in a different stage of my life, and I view each group as a fresh start. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? I also write in the margins. A lot. I highlight passages and quotes that speak to me.
During the years I facilitated the first four creative clusters, I was an exhibiting painter, a founding member of the first English-speaking art guild in Brussels, Belgium, and I wrote poetry no one read. I was a married ex-pat with two children in high school. We owned a vacation home in the South of France and traveled extensively. I had a large circle of international friends and loved my life. Then, in a flash, it changed dramatically and before I knew it, my children were studying in the US and I shut the doors of my homes in France and Belgium. My idyllic life and European lifestyle had vanished.
In 2006, I moved back to the US, went back to school, worked full time, and put the rough draft manuscript of A Decent Woman, which I’d finished in Brussels during the fourth TAW group, in a box. I got on with my new life as a single, working Mom, but that didn’t last long. I felt like a fish out of water in more ways than one. From 2006 to 2010, I lived and worked in New York, Maryland, and Virginia, searching for my forever home and a way to return to my creative life, but to no avail. I wasn’t unhappy, just unsettled, and I didn’t have a free moment to do anything creative.
In 2010, I jumped off a cliff and bought a beautiful period home in West Virginia. I finally opened the box that contained my manuscript and went to work. A Decent Woman was first published in 2015 and republished in 2017. I painted on the side, but writing became my new passion, my obsession. It still is.
Earlier this month, my fifth creative cluster met for the first time at a local coffee shop. The five women were new to the book, which I’ve always credited for completely changing my life because it did. Actually, walking El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain changed my life. I went on that journey with my children, weeks after my husband left our home–a pilgrimage of the soul that utterly changed me and consequently, my life. I kept a nightly journal during that challenging walk and after my current work-in-progress, The Laments, is published this year (I hope!), I’ll begin working on the El Camino memoir of the most enlightening time of my life. I think I’ll call it, Saving Grace.
Back to the new TAW group. Sadly or just right, only one out of the five participants was able to brave the elements that evening. As always, it was a wonderful experience. I’d forgotten how much I love the book, the exercises, and how much I glean from Cameron’s special and intuitive wisdom. Since then, the participants have shared how much they’re enjoying the book and I can’t wait to meet them next month.
While I read and work with Week Two of TAW, I’m diligent about writing my Morning Pages and hard at work on The Laments, my second novel set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, 1927 to be exact. I haven’t written as many blog posts this year because I’m usually dealing with similar issues and thoughts in my Morning Pages. I don’t know why it’s an either-or situation for me; it just is. And I’m okay with that. The Laments is coming along nicely, and again, I am in love with my story and the unique characters.
During one of my February Artist Dates, I bought a sleek, black Waterman fountain pen (my second) and beautiful, cold-pressed D’Arche watercolor paper. The sun is shining today and Spring will arrive on March 19, at 11:50 pm. I’ve purchased my airline tickets for Puerto Rico and our Airbnb reservations on the island are secured. I’m happy. I hope you are, too.
I guess I did have a lot to say today. Happy creating!
Eleanor x

Me in March 2020

 

About Eleanor:
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.
Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. Look for The Laments in 2020.
BUY THE BOOK:

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

https://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia/dp/1941058876/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=a+decent+woman+by+eleanor+parker+sepia&qid=1576099888&sr=8-1-fkmr0

 

 

 

Centro Voices, Center for Puerto Rican Studies: Where to Donate to Disaster Relief Efforts for Puerto Rico

Josue Mendez

Donate to Disaster Relief Efforts for Puerto Rico

Organization: Puerto Rican Family Institute
Donations accepted: Bultos para emergencias, extintores de fuego, kits de primeros auxilios, baterías, linternas, botellas de agua, bolsas de basuras gruesas, productos de higiene personal, utensilios, papel toalla, comida seca para gatos y perros, pañales, fórmula de bebé, rompecabezas u otra actividad para niños.
State: NY
Donation site: 145 West 15th St. New York, NY (1st Floor)
Details: 11 al 18 de enero de 2020, Lunes a Viernes de 9:00 am – 7:00 pm | Sabados de 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Contact: 212-924-6320 | dbenitez@prfi.org


Organization: Friendly Hands Inc.
Donations accepted: Baterías, linternas, carpas, ropa de cama, barritas de merienda y suministros para bebés.
State: NY
Donation site: 229 E118th St New York, NY
Details: 11 al 18 de enero de 2020, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Contact:


Organization: Community Prevention Alternatives For Families In Crisis Center Inc.
Donations accepted: Botellas de Agua, baterías, linternas, pañales, fórmula de bebé y  kits de primeros auxilios.
State: NY
Donation site: 143-40 41st Ave, Flushing, NY
Details: Rep. Grace Meng, Northeast Queens District Office | 40-13 159th St. Unit C, Flushing, NY, Por favor llamar primero al 718-909-4634 | Martha Flores-Vazquez
Contact: Rep. Grace Meng, Northeast Queens District Office | 40-13 159th St. Unit C, Flushing, NY


Organization: Lucille Roberts
Donations accepted:
State: NY
Donation site:
Details: 430 89th St Brooklyn, NY
Contact:


Organization: St. Lucy Old Roman Catholic Church
Donations accepted: Baterías, linternas, pañales para adultos y bebés, artículos médicos, kits de primeros auxilios y fórmula de bebé
State: NY
Donation site: 802 Kent Ave. Brooklyn, NY
Details:
Contact: Ebony Quinonez | 347-634-8278


Organization: Evento coordinado por: Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Concejal Rubén D‎íaz Sr. y El asambleísta Marcos A.Crespo.
Donations accepted: Agua, baterías, kits de primeros auxilios, alimentos enlatados, linternas, pañales y fórmula de bebé.
State: NY
Donation site: Intersección entre Southern Blvd y Aldus Street, Bronx, NY 10459
Details: Sábado, 18 de enero de 2020, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Contact:


Organization: El Maestro Inc.
Donations accepted: Kit de primeros auxilios, productos de higiene personal, artículos para bebés y personas mayores de edad
State: NY
Donation site: 1300 Southern Boulevard Bronx, New York
Details: Mon. –  Fri. until Jan. 25
Contact: Ponce Laspina | 646-299-6507 |  tuconsentido@aol.com


Organization: Bronx Chamber of Commerce & Police Department of New York 45th Precinct
Donations accepted: Baterías, Lámparas Solares, Sábanas, Carpas, Linternas y kits de primeros auxilios.
State: NY
Donation site: 45th Precinct, 2877 Barkley Avenue, Bronx, NY
Details:
Contact:


Organization: Residence Inn by Marriott
Donations accepted: Baterías, Lámparas Solares, Sábanas, Carpas, Linternas y kits de primeros auxilios.
State: NY
Donation site: 1776 Eastchester Road, Bronx, NY
Details:
Contact:


Organization: Applebee’s (Marble Hill)
Donations accepted: Baterías, Lámparas Solares, Sábanas, Carpas, Linternas y kits de primeros auxilios.
State: NY
Donation site: 76 W 225th St, Bronx, NY
Details:
Contact: 718-597-4629


Organization: El Puente
Donations accepted: water filters, solar flashlights and tents
State: NY
Donation site: 211 South 4th St., Brooklyn, NY 11249
Details:
Contact: 


Organization: Tainas Unidas, United fro PR Earthquake Victims
Donations accepted: Personal hygiene, first aid supplies, tents, flashlighets, etc
State: NJ
Donation site: Tainos Kitchen, 849 Mt. Prospect Avenue, Newark, NJ 07104
Details: Mon- Sun 10-8pm, Sun
Contact: 973.991.6827 or 973.391.3054


Organization: Nueva York por Puerto Rico / New York for Puerto Rico
Donations accepted:
State: NY
Donation site: Overthrow Boxing Club 9 Bleeker Street, Manhattan
Details: Sunday, January 25th 4pm to 11pm
Contact:


Organization: City of Perth Amboy Mayor Wanda Dua
Donations accepted:
State: NJ
Donation site: Alexandar Jankowski Community Center 1 Olive Street Perh Amboy, NJ 08861
Details: Until Wednesday, 1/15, from 9am to 7pm
Contact: (732) 826-1690 x4305


Organization: Bronx County Expo & Freddy Perez Jr.
Donations accepted: Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief Concert
State: NY
Donation site: Lehman College, Lehman Center Concert Hall
Details: 1/17 Music Fundraiser, 7pm
Contact: www.lehmancenter.org


Organization: Andrew Padilla, For Brigada Solidaria Oeste & Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer, INC
Donations accepted: Open Mic & Auction
State: NY
Donation site: Teddy’s 256 East 112th Street
Details: 1/16, 6pm – 2am Open Mic
Contact:


Organization: Segunda Quimbamba
Donations accepted:
State: NJ
Donation site: 340 3rd Street Jersey City, NY 07302
Details: 1/26 12:30pm – 4pm
Contact:


Organization: Puerto Rock Steady Music Festival
Donations accepted: Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief Fund Fundraiser
State: NJ
Donation site: gofundme.com/f/s94n37-puerto-rico-earthquake
Details: Humanitarian mission currently in PR
Contact: website: harper4humanity.com


Organization: CT Juntos Por Puerto Rico / CT Together for Puerto Rico
Donations accepted: Fundraising
State: CT
Donation site: https://www.hartfordprparade.com
Details:
Contact: CICDPRParade@gmail.com


Organization: United to Help Puerto Rico
Donations accepted: Collecting backpacks and emergency supplies
State: PA
Donation site: Iglesia Vida Abundante Labanon, 607 Chestnut Street, Lebanon PA
Details: icvalebanon@gmail.com
Contact: Pastor Madeline Berrios (717) 389-6594


Organization: Concilio Mava y Iglesia Cristinana Vida Abundante
Donations accepted: Collecting backpacks and emergency supplies
State: PA
Donation site: 70 West Main Street Adamstown, PA
Details:
Contact: Pastor Jose Rivera, (7171) 661-7636


Organization: Iglesia Cristiana Vida Abundante, Lancaster
Donations accepted: Collecting backpacks and emergency supplies
State: PA
Donation site: Lancaster, PA
Details:
Contact: Pastora Lissette Colon, (717) 333-5868


Organization: Ministerio en Busca de lo Que se habia Perdido
Donations accepted: Collecting backpacks and emergency supplies
State: PA
Donation site: Hazelton, PA
Details:
Contact: Pastor Joshua Silva, (570) 497-1819


Organization: Help Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief
Donations accepted: Flashlights, alcohol pads, badaids, gauze, ducktape, small radios, fist aid kits, batteries
State: OH
Donation site: Sacred Heart Chapel, 4301 Pearl Ave Lorain OH
Details: Monday – Friday, January 13 – 17, 4pm to 8pm
Contact: (440) 277-7231


Organization: LAMA Lorain P.R. Earthquake Relief
Donations accepted: Flashlights, alcohol pads, badaids, gauze, ducktape, small radios, fist aid kits, batteries, whistles
State: OH
Donation site: 2200 Cleveland Blvd., Lorain, OH 44052
Details: Monday – Friday, January 13 – 17, 4pm to 8pm
Contact: 440.225.1561

Prayers and donations for Puerto Rico

Earthquakes 2020 Ramon Tonito Zayes

Image: Ramón Toñito Zayes

Prayers for mi bella isla and all Boricuas on the island and in the diaspora. Puerto Ricans still haven’t fully recovered from the island-wide devastation after Hurricane Maria, which took place between September 16 to October 2, 2017, and now they are suffering from thousands of deadly earthquakes and strong aftershocks–a devastating emergency situation.

I pray Trump quickly approves the Puerto Rican Governor’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and stops withholding Congressionally-appropriated funds to recover from 2017 hurricanes. Release all available aid designated to the island for relief! As I understand it, as of this past Saturday, he has refused to do so, citing ‘corruption’ concerns. Yeah, that’s rich coming from him. I can’t recall a single, positive tweet from this guy about the current suffering in Puerto Rico. If I say any more about Trump and his ‘administration’, it will involve expletives, so I’ll spare you. Back to what’s truly important–the people of Puerto Rico.

Since December 28 (I’ve been checking USGS since December 16), Puerto Rico has suffered thousands of earthquakes and aftershocks, currently centered in and around Guanica and Ponce (my hometown), many offshore in the southwest, with no end in sight. My friend read that the island has sunk two inches. It is heartbreaking to know my fellow Puerto Ricans, my family, and friends in Ponce and Guayanilla are suffering every single day over lost homes, businesses, and historic buildings. Puerto Ricans are resilient and as always, they are helping each other, but it doesn’t erase the fact they are living with all-consuming fear, anxiety, and heartache with the constant threat of possible earthquakes to come. Thousands in the south and on the west coast are living outside in tents or sleeping in parking lots, in their cars, and on mountain tops with no electricity or access to clean water. The schools are closed, and people can’t work; it’s a horrific situation.

I ask you to please consider donating today to the many available organizations that provide assistance for earthquake relief in Puerto Rico. I am reminded to add (as I have done): make sure your donations are reaching people in need. Imagine if this was happening to you and yours. I do.

Thank you in advance. Prayers for Puerto Rico.

Eleanor

Holiday Newsletter with Coquito Recipe

Happy holidays to you and your family!

christmas tree coffee

What a wonderful whirlwind of a week leading up to the Winter Solstice and before I travel to Maryland to share Christmas with my family. Last week, I enjoyed sharing great meals with good friends, catching up with family and friends via newsy Christmas cards and long phone calls, and last Thursday, a thoughtful friend treated me to dinner and a magical Holiday concert at the charming and cozy O’Hurley’s General Store (opened in 1899) in my favorite West Virginia town, historic Shepherdstown. The concert at O’Hurley’s (new to me) was the highlight of my month leading to Christmas. I felt a bit overwhelmed as I entered the back room with the vaulted ceiling. I was misty-eyed, actually, as most everything I love–history; charming architecture; an enormous, freshly-cut Christmas tree; holiday smells of cinnamon and apple; a warm atmosphere complete with a huge potbelly stove; lovely music; good company; and rustic elegance–were in one place. Simply magical. And since it’s still a working general store, all your holiday gifts are there, as well. You’ll find hand-knit sweaters to scarves to decorative items for the home, Christmas decorations, and local jams, honey, and jellies. O’Hurley’s is truly a one-stop shopping experience.

If you’ve never visited charming Shepherdstown, make your plans now for next year.  Plan to stay at the gorgeous German-owned Bavarian Inn and Restaurant that overlooks the Potomac River, complete with an authentic Rasthskeller; enjoy a sumptuous dinner and a great wine list at The Press Room on West German Street, and then head to O’Hurley’s General Store for the 7:30-10:00/10:30 concert. Jay, the owner of O’Hurley’s, is a musician, who invites local musicians to play every Thursday, year-round. And the concerts are free. So make it a long weekend and include a Thursday in your plans.

Every year, I tell myself I will be super organized with all my gifts wrapped by December 18 and the Christmas Day grocery run will be done that week. Right. The truth is, every year like today, I have a gift or two arriving on 23 December and some Christmas cards will go out in January. Early this morning, I was at the supermarket picking up baking supplies and the ingredients for Coquito, our Puerto Rican version of eggnog. In my humble opinion, it tastes better than eggnog because I love coconut. My favorite recipe is at the end of the blog. You’re welcome, smile.

In 2020, I intend to stop trying to be (pretending to be?) super organized at home. It is what it is. Mind you, this is not a New Year’s resolution. Instead, I will embrace ME, all of me, to include my spontaneous, creative, messy, and fun-loving sides. I’m okay with my unruly, wavy hair, the stacks of books on each step of the staircase, and a few cobwebs here and there. My dining room table/writing desk is almost always covered with dozens of notebooks, reference books, candles, fountain pens, bowls of crystals, tarot cards (I’m a beginner), and my two laptops. My art supplies are close by in an antique Austrian chest and the Christmas tree might be up until March…or April. All that makes me happy and productive. Art is not for the timid and most artists I know enjoy a bit of organized clutter!

Despite waking up early every day this month with a determination to write, the impeachment hearings won out. What can I tell you? I was glued to my laptop and yes, I’m pleased. More than pleased. My writing muse had the same idea–it was historic and that was that. I’m happy it happened before Christmas.

Now, for those who find this time of year difficult, I send you a warm hug. During certain times of the year, I often feel nostalgic and sad as I long for my mother and dear relatives who’ve passed on. You are not alone.

As promised, here is my no-egg Coquito recipe, which is enjoyed from November to the end of January. There is nothing like a Puerto Rican Christmas, smile.

Puerto Rican Coquito

  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 15 oz. can Coco Lopez cream of coconut or Goya cream of coconut
  • 1 cup or 1 1/2 cups Bacardi or Don Q white rum (unless you prefer a virgin Coquito)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix well. Chill for 2 or more hours before serving. Sprinkle cocktails with cinnamon and/or add a cinnamon stick to each highball glass.

I would love to hear your comments if you decide to try this beloved Puerto Rican holiday drink. Happy holidays!

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.

Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. Look for The Laments in 2020.

BUY THE BOOK:

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

https://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia/dp/1941058876/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=a+decent+woman+by+eleanor+parker+sepia&qid=1576099888&sr=8-1-fkmr0

 

AM I EXPERIENCING WRITER’S BLOCK OR FEAR?

AM I EXPERIENCING WRITER’S BLOCK OR FEAR?

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Writers will offer myriad explanations for why we’re not writing, some are very creative explanations (guilty), and we usually attribute a dry spell to writer’s block. While I used to believe writer’s block was a real thing, I no longer feel that way. Here’s my story about writer’s block and a few questions to ask ourselves that may help to get to the heart of the matter.

After completing the fifteenth chapter of my work in progress called THE LAMENTS, I feared I might be coming down with the dreaded writer’s block. What I felt at that time had never happened to me before and I wanted to distance myself from that “curse”. The only way to describe the experience was feeling muddle-headed, a bit lost, but still hopeful. I was at a difficult place in the story, right smack in the middle, which is a tough place. There were two distinct story paths I could follow at the time. I was literally at a fork in the road and wasn’t sure which direction to follow, so I stopped to think for a few days, which is always a good thing. It turned out I didn’t write for a week. Not good for me.

(My next blog post will be about dealing with middle of the story issues).

Now, sometimes writers need renewed inspiration. We’re not robots. Writing a book is a grueling, mentally-challenging endeavor, and the more passionate (obsessed) we are about our story, the more unforgiving and hard we are on ourselves. And, let’s not forget the guilt that sets in when we’re not writing; it’s awful. The stress almost takes on a human form–a dark presence that never leaves us; always hovering over our heads or looking over our shoulders, asking, “Why aren’t you writing?”

We’ve created wonderful and complex characters, we’ve given them life, and we’ve abandoned them, often at a crucial point in their personal stories. We wouldn’t do that to a friend, would we? No, we wouldn’t leave them hanging! Yet, we leave our characters hanging. Why does that happen?

Julia Cameron (a personal hero), the author of the seminal book on creativity, THE ARTIST’S WAY, encourages us to take weekly Author Dates to recharge our creative batteries. My Author Dates have included museum tours, strolling through a city garden, visiting my local flower nursery, sharing coffee with a family member or a good friend, and shopping for creative and fun writing supplies. I did all of the above during that difficult time. I also connected with fellow writers, who could relate to the dry spell I was experiencing. They encouraged and supported me to hang in there; it was only temporary, they said. Well, a week turned into two weeks without writing a damn thing. I was lost. I thought it might be time for a vacation, but I’d just returned from vacation! What was going on?

I then recognized what I was feeling; it was pure, unadulterated fear. So, I put on my counselor hat and asked myself these questions, hoping to ascertain what was really going on.

  • Do I fear failure, judgment, too much exposure, or the fear of succeeding?
  • Am I afraid of sitting with and thinking about the story, the characters, or possible endings because that takes away from valuable writing time?
  • Should I rework my outline?
  • Am I really a writer or a wannabe?
  • Am I experiencing mental clutter, physical disorganization at home, or are there too many distractions in my life at the moment?
  • Am I focusing too much on research and not on writing? (This does not pertain to writers of historical fiction or writers of nonfiction).
  • Am I stressing about putting out a book a year for fear of losing readers or letting down my readers?
  • Am I comparing my writing journey to other writer’s journeys?
  • Is there a truth that needs saying or exploring in my novel, but I’m putting on the brakes for fear of hurting others or exposing myself?
  • Do I believe my second book won’t be as well-received and successful as my first book?
  • Is it true I can’t write today? Thank you to Bryon Katie, the fabulous creator of THE WORK.
  • Am I afraid of acknowledging I’m lost and in need of a good editor’s help?

Each item has one thing in common–fear–and fear can stagnate or stop the writing momentum entirely for any writer at any time…IF you give in to the fear. I answered yes to many of those questions and I took action. I acknowledged my fear and sat at the writing chair once again.

Yes, I’m putting it back on us and placing us back in our writing chair–where we belong. Readers need you. I need a writing community, and we all need more good books. Sure, there are harried and frustrating days when I don’t meet my hoped-for word count goal, and there will be frustrating days when I know my writing certainly isn’t my best. But I give myself credit and a pat on the back for showing up at the writing desk–that’s key.

Do what you have to do to get back to your story, no matter what.

Thank you for your visit. I hope this blog post helps, and don’t give up!

Eleanor

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and it was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.

A writer, artist, and poet, Eleanor is currently working on her second historical novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. When Eleanor is not writing, she tends to her garden, travels, dreams of traveling, and tells herself she will walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time before her hips give out. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing adult children and currently lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.

BUY THE BOOK:

https://amzn.to/2WjgXuC

A Decent Woman Flat (1)