Growing Up On The San Ysidro/Tijuana Border

My childhood is full memories involving la línea (the line) the Tijuana border crossing. Here are just a few.

From our front porch you could look across the vacant field we used to play in, past Freeway 5, and across the tumbleweed flatland to the border fence separating the United States from Mexico. At night the whole hillside city of Tijuana was lit up with tiny specs of light. I remember dad saying it looked like a shiny wedding ring.

As a family we experienced crossing the border every Sunday to go to La Iglesia (church). Crossing into Tijuana was a breeze but coming home was a different story, especially on busy holiday weekends. Long lines of cars approached by Mexican vendors selling everything from Chiclets, to paintings on velvet, to jugs of water at a premium for drivers who’s radiators had overheated. When you finally reached your turn at the little booth a border patrol officer would stick his head in the window, look each passenger in the eyes and ask “ are you an American citizen?” They also asked what business you had in Mexico, how long you had been there, and if you had any fruits or vegetables (which were confiscated immediately to protect California’s agriculture from invading pests and disease).


The most traumatic childhood event involving the border crossing was the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. My dad had gone to Mexico alone and was on his way home when they shut down all international borders. He was stuck in line in Tijuana for hours and as children we were frightened he may never be able to come home again.

My funniest memory of the border fence was down at Friendship Park, the stretch of beach now featured prominently on the nightly news, where the border fence goes out into the Pacific ocean. But before the story let me give you a little background. Richard Nixon was president and his wife Pat had come down in a gesture of goodwill to dedicate the park and ceremonially cut the first link in the fence that was removed making it easy to walk along the shoreline from Mexico into the United States at low tide. They also cut another hole in the fence and erected a monument marking the most Southwest point in the United States. Now this part of isolated shoreline, east of Imperial Beach was a favorite meet up spot on the weekends for radio controlled model airplane hobbyist. My brother Dan would take his airplane down and fly with other enthusiasts and take Doug and Duane and me with him. One Saturday morning we were down there watching the model airplanes fly when we were distracted by a big group of young Latino men taking their turns squeezing between the chain link fence and the monument, freely entering into the United States. As we were watching the young man taking their turns coming through we noticed the next in line was familiar face. It was Duane! Apparently he had gone down and out in the ocean a few feet to enter into Mexico, then came back up and got in line with the Mexicans taking their turns squeezing through the fence into the United States. Duane found more ways to amuse himself than anyone else I have ever known, but this had to be the most hilarious thing my other brothers and I have ever witnessed!

My oldest brother, Dick, still lives in Tijuana as far as the rest of the family knows. He is a Vietnam veteran and I hope all is well with him during this time of turmoil in Tijuana.

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My One Year Anniversary

Today is exactly one year since I took control of my health and started eating healthy, cutting out all processed foods and replacing them with nutrient dense foods. I began with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet which is like the Paleo Diet but it also eliminates nuts, seeds, legumes, night shades, dairy, and eggs.

I never cheated on the diet except 3 times by having a tortilla while eating out with friends and family. Other than that I do all my cooking at home using only organic produce and grass-fed/wild-caught/free range meats. Nine months ago I started going to the Functional Medicine Department at the Cleveland Clinic and with the guidance of a doctor and nutritionist I have reintroduced eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes into my diet.

My auto immune diseases (Dermatomyositis, Arthritis Lupus, Sjogren’s & Graves’ Disease) are not all in complete remission but they are under control enough to get me off the 9 prescription I was taking including IVIG infusions at the hospital. The only prescription I take now is 3 mg of prednisone. I was taking 12-20 mg of prednisone for 23 years, and several times a year my rheumatologist would bump me up to 60mg taper. I have now lost all of that prednisone bloat and am down 50 pounds to what I weighed in my early 20’s.

Last year I was bedridden with no hope for recovery. The medications I had been taking not only stopped working, but their side effects were making me even sicker than the illness itself. Long term steroid use was giving me rosacea worse than the lupus rash. I could not get my sugar under 300 even though my family doctor kept increasing the Metformin dose. I am off the Metformin and no longer need my blood pressure, cholesterol and beta blocker prescriptions. No more immunosuppressant, anti-inflammatories, or analgesics either.

I recently tried reintroducing grains (i.e. arrowroot and rice) night shades, and legumes, but due to an autoimmune skin flare I’ve temporarily stopped all to see if one of them is the culprit. I still have a glucose sensitivity so I’ve cut back on all fruits except for berries, kiwi & pomegranate.

Learning yoga, getting regular cardio & strength training, reducing stress, avoiding toxins, and getting nine hours of sleep a night has significantly helped too. It’s a lifestyle change but well worth it to get my life back from hopelessness one year ago to realizing my dream of opening my own gallery downtown. So Happy Anniversary to me!

LorraineMarcellaIf anyone is suffering with autoimmunity and has any questions I would be glad to share what I’ve learned this past year with you. Everyone’s recovery plan is as individual as they are but I have gained a lot of knowledge from research and personal experience and some things are universal.



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Basil Day

It’s Basil Day At Marcella House!

This morning I took the potted basil out of my windowsill herb garden and set it on the coffee table. I decided it’s time to educate myself on herbs so the plan is to learn about a new herb every day. I sat on the couch in front of the basil plant with Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs and read the whole section on basil. I had pinched off a leaf and rubbed it between my fingers to release it’s fragrance as I read. When I was done I got the kitchen scissors out and pruned a nice batch off the top of the plant to encourage a more dense growth. After setting the clump of cuttings on the coffee table I read the Essential Oil’s Desk Reference on basil. It pretty much repeated the highlights from the Herb Encyclopedia. I was now inspired to defuse some basil essential oil and contemplate how to implement the cuttings in my cooking today. 


When lunchtime came around it was a grass-fed turkey patty with Himalayan sea salt, tumeric for taste, topped with a basil cutting. While it was cooking I sliced up the rest of the basil leaves and stems to put in an organic salad. I read that the flowers are edible so I tossed them in the salad too. It ended up being the most enjoyable salad! My dressing was First Fresh Olive Oil and Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother). 


(Turkey burger w/ Basil sides: onion, mushroom, garlic clove, sauerkraut, and a date)

I have no idea what the herb of the day will be tomorrow… Maybe Mint?

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The Auto Immune Protocol Diet

Today I begin following the Paleo AIP Diet. To keep myself from hopeless thinking like, “On no! I can never eat normal food again!” I am only committing to 21 days of it. That’s how long it take to form a habit and that also brings me up on the weekend of my 60th birthday.

This week I have been eating all the dairy, grains and nuts in the house so they will be out of reach in a moment of weakness. I also have been watering down my morning mug of coffee and cutting down to one small glass of Diet Dr Pepper a day and to avoid caffeine withdrawal when I eliminate them completely. I have already cut out all alcohol over a week ago.

So why the drastic measures? Well I may bore you with the details in another blog but basically I have several auto immune diseases and the medical treatment that has worked for many years has stopped working. The only medical solution now (and it might not even work) is to “bring in the big guns” as my dermatologist put it. They are known as Biologics, genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes. You may have seen ads for them on TV with all the scary risk factors listed at the end. Because my liver is compromised already I’m am not a good candidate for using them. Honestly, I chose this diet out of mortal fear!

I belong to several auto immune support groups and those that have been disciplined enough to follow the AIP Diet have gotten good results. So wish me luck… I’m running out of options.


My first official AIP meal was Cuban Style Mojo Chicken Wings & Collard Greens with Bacon. Thanks “Paleo On The Go” for making this thing whole thing possible. There is no way I could have shopped for and cooked this on my own.

Collard Greens, bacon, onions, sea salt, chicken stock, lard, balsamic vinegar
Cuban Style Mojo Chicken Wings – pasture raised antibiotic free chicken, lime, garlic, oregano, cilantro, olive oil, arrowroot, sea salt

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The Basket Case

The delivery of baskets has arrived to help feed my creativity about how to fill them with gifts from Maysville. It is now obvious my next step is to order fancy paper to help nestle these gifts into the baskets and then bows to tie them up.

But first I must finish up my logo so it can be printed on sales bags and other paper products that should probably be ordered at the same time as these fancy papers and bows.

1 million decisions to make and none of them are wrong!

The Baskets

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The American Queen

I can just see it now… me, sitting on my back porch and right in front of me passes the world’s largest, most luxurious river cruise ship ever built! That’s right, the Steamboat American Queen will be churning up the Ohio River once again, and the most exciting part is that it will be docking right up the street from me at the Limestone Landing! The passengers will disembark and spend the day exploring Historic Downtown Maysville and Old Washington.

The American Queen, which is 418 feet long and 89 feet wide, is currently undergoing a $5 million renovation. She has a capacity of 436 guests and a crew of 160. When the steamboat comes into port during the day, the same drivers and the same guides (from past days) will be there. They actually follow the boats up and down the river during the entire season, integrating the shore excursions into the cruise experience. The American Queen made its last trip up the Ohio River through Maysville in 2008.

The American Queen is a six-deck recreation of a classic Mississippi riverboat and is the only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat sailing in the United States. At the end of April the grand American Queen will journey from Memphis up the Ohio River to Cincinnati with a stop in Louisville on the day of the Kentucky Derby and participate for the first time in the Great Steamboat Race against The Belle of Louisville and the Belle of Cincinnati!


The Steamboat American will be in Maysville 4 times during the month of July, the dates are approximately the 14th, 21st, 23rd, and the 31st. For more information check out the links at the bottom of this post. These beautiful scenes are from the owner’s website.

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Great Smoky Mountains Artist-in-Residency Program

Normally I share my thoughts here but today I want to share a wonderful opportunity for my artist friends…

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park Artist-in-Residence program offers a remarkable opportunity for artists to pursue their artistic endeavors while being surrounded by the park’s inspiring landscape. The 4-6 week residency includes a free furnished apartment and up to $300 for materials. This residency is for professional artists including writers, musicians, craftsmen, composers, painters, sculptors, photographers, storytellers, performance artists, and videographers…”

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Silver Lining

I’m trying not to be upset over the fact that I had to send in my main camera lens for repair. It refused to focus properly, especially when zoomed into infinity.

I don’t mind, so much, that I am without my lens for a few weeks… I mind that the repair cost may be several hundreds of dollars that I do not have. (At least it isn’t my expensive macro lens on the fritz!)  I tried to get away using it with limited focus range but after a photo shoot on the observation deck of the Carew Tower (the tallest building downtown Cincinnati) I discovered I was getting way better photographs with my iPhone.

So now I am without my lens but not without my need to capture everything I see. I started taking lots of iPhone photographs and then out of boredom I searched the AppStore for camera editing applications. I was ultimately fascinated with the “Grunge” apps, downloaded a couple of them, and they have become the silver lining in this whole lens fiasco!

Now I keep my mind consumed by learning all the texture and tone varieties in the apps, and capturing my world thru a new (dare I say… grungy) pointy of view.

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Summer Solstice


The sun rose directly in front of me today. This is the most northern sunrise of the year.

This morning I was out on the back porch overlooking the river at 6:00am waiting to celebrate the sunrise with the birds on this first day of summer. It will be the longest day of the year! Right as the sun breaks the horizon there is always a lot of movement as the clouds expand and get sucked down into it’s heat. Only momentarily did I see the full sun and it disappeared into all the clouds that gathered to welcome it.

Today the sun rose at its most northern point, and will travel the closest to earth that it will all year. Tomorrow it will rise a tad to the right of where it is in my photograph, and there will be 2 whole seconds less of daylight. There is still time to celebrate though, sunset at 9:08 (giving us 14 hours, 55 minutes, and 36 seconds of sunlight here on our little slice of plant earth).

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River Sweep

River Sweep is sponsored by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) with funding though the Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE) and is an annual riverbank cleanup for the Ohio River and it’s tributaries. Throughout the years this nationally recognized event has grown into one of the largest cleanup efforts of it’s kind. It encompasses more than 3,000 miles of shoreline from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL.

Increased water quality of the Ohio River and its tributaries has increased recreational use, in turn increasing the amount of litter along the riverbanks making yearly cleanup vital. River Sweep also increases public awareness of water quality and promotes stewardship of the Ohio River and it’s tributaries. Last year over 20,000 people volunteered to collect trash and debris from the riverbanks.

This year extensive spring flooding has an ever bigger mess along the banks of the Ohio but even today’s rain didn’t keep volunteers from putting on their gloves, grabbing a trash bag, and hitting the bank of the mighty river. Free tee-shirt are also given to volunteers who come environmental organizations, civic groups, recreational clubs, scout troops, local businesses, FaceBook invites, and families wanting to play an active roll in improving the environment.

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