Stories From California

Sometimes I want to write more than just journalistically about my experiences as a reporter. That is why I started to write down my thoughts, observations and emotions beyond scripts for radio, print and TV. This experiment is a lot of fun and scary at the same time. But, as they say, you have to get out of your comfort zone.

Marthe Cohn - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

"She turned around and looked me straight in the eye. Then she asked: Fräulein, are you a spy?"

Marthe Cohn was a spy. A 24 year old Jewish spy for the French army who crossed the border to Germany from Switzerland. She spoke German fluently, was just a bit more than 5 feet tall, blond, and determined to do everything in her power to help end WWII. It is eye opening how much power a small, young woman can have once she dares to take this power seriously!

I met Marthe and her husband Major in their house in Rancho Palos Verdes. She told me her story of being one of the most unlikely spies in history. She had to change her identity, become Martha Ulrich, German patriot, orphan, looking for her fiancé Hans, a missing soldier. 

Paper And Phone - del Rey, CA

Walking through my neighborhood, I see a lot of changes. Real estate prizes not only going through roofs but through the sky.

Locals creating new stores: pottery, coffee place, seafood restaurant. 

30 year old businesses working hard to stay afloat: lawn mower repair shop, second hand instruments, Oaxacan specialty store. 

Whirling Goddess - Big Sur, CA

"I give my heart permission to lead this dance. I give my mind some time off - no more worry, no more doubt, planning and resisting. Instead, I surrender. Instead I open. Instead I allow, I allow, I allow.
And all unfolds with perfection, divine timing and the miracle of grace."

So it is January. Medical bills coming in. For care after running into a light pole. For a root canal still making my jaw hurt and cheek swollen. Taxes due soon. Freelance journalism not really being a source of solid income.

If it all gets a bit overwhelming, I take out this card, I randomly pulled out of a Rumi Oracle card set while at a work shop in Esalen.

Then I start listening to my heart. And tell my mind to take some time off. It helps. A lot.

please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Orange Tree, Backyard - del Rey, CA

"One mustn't ask apple trees for oranges, France for sun, women for love, life for happiness."
Gustave Flaubert

I am not entirely sure what Gustave Flaubert wanted to say here. I would never ask an orange tree for apples, but have seen plenty of sun in France, know many loving women and have a happy life. Maybe the point is, not to ask for any of this? 

My Dad planted an apple tree in our front yard. My sister later put an apple tree for him in her family's garden. Apples for me are part of life in Germany. I like them crunchy and a bit sour.

The orange tree in our back yard stands for my life in California. Sweet and juicy! Never ever did I imagine ...

Ceola "Dice" Waddle - Downtown Los Angeles, CA

A Skid Row Hustle - From a Pack of Cigaretts To Bed and Breakfast on the Streets

While volunters are counting the homeless in Los Angeles County and will again arrive at a number unfathomably high, I was thinking of one of the men who talked with me about their life on Skid Row: Ceola "Dice" Waddle.

He stood out. Between camps made from tents, tarp, card board and rags he wore an ironed suit, a white apron, leather shoes and a cream colored fedora. He also had sizzling pots and pans on an improvised stove in front of him. Ceola was easy to approach, which cannot be said of most of the people I passed. He had a friendly smile, and something in his eyes told me he was ready to tell me his story. Or at least A story ...