For The Dogs In Our Lives

tail wagging, little bum wriggling,
tongue slurping on my hands and face
body curving in goofy demented joy –
eight pounds of bliss and bounce

squealing and scurrying to his
favorite toy, giving it a
shake to show who’s boss,
hurrying back in shaggy delight

I launch the sock knotted in two
and watch his euphoria embrace
even the air we breathe; playtime
bursts open and we frolic in glee

with a jump and a quiver he lands
on my lap – the cumbersome day
peels off my skin and I hold the
gleaming sun close in my hands


My mother’s hands rest on green,

the color of a blanket

I place across her lap,

the one she would use

while watching t.v.

the one she clutches as

we watch for the ambulance

while the night grows black.

My feet step on black,

the color of rubber mats

placed at a hospital door

to soften the entrance

of bodies hurrying

past white lights shining


I don’t stop for white

nor rest by it.

I walk until there are

no colors left

except black –

the sound of the

doctor sitting next to me

the night my mother died.


Grief doesn’t descend
as a single gray cloud.

It takes its time.

It slowly blinds
you with soft
falling ash,
and enters your pores
like a dying mist.

It settles in
your throat as
a burning wind,
and rips at your lungs
like rabid ghosts.

It burrows its way
like a blind vole
under the surface
of your days
leaving hollow trails

It scrapes across
your body, etching
scars only you
will ever see.
“I’m fine,” you say

And smile.



(originally posted on

3 Quotes for My Walk of Self-Discovery

For much of my life I’ve felt lost, living in someone else’s skin. I felt like I was hovering in the atmosphere next to everyone else’s lives, looking in on them but not really a part of anything.

I wrote these quotes down at different periods of my life. Continue reading “3 Quotes for My Walk of Self-Discovery”

7 Books About Writing

I love to read about writing, to the point that it becomes an easy-to-justify avoidance technique:

“I just need to see how _____________ approaches writer’s block/plot/ideas/ structure/ description/dialogue. Then I’ll  know what to do.”

Have you been there too?

Nevertheless, books on writing also inspire, encourage and nudge us along.

Here are some books that helped me on the writing path, guided certain life choices, or are on my to-read in the near future: Continue reading “7 Books About Writing”

How To Trust Your Gut Instincts

Sixth sense, intuition, a gut feeling. I’ve heard and often repeated “trust your gut”.

But I didn’t do it until the manipulative, narcissistic interactions with an immediate family member had me looking for a way out.

I was co-dependent (and still working on that). I learned how to appease and give in, rather than listen to the niggling, uncomfortable warning that something’s not right.  Continue reading “How To Trust Your Gut Instincts”

Manipulative People – Finding Your Way Out

Have you waited too long to act on behalf of yourself? Are you putting up with behavior that others wouldn’t tolerate for two minutes? It took me until my 50s to begin to do so.

Do you feel off-balance, unsteady around some people? Do some people give you the impression that others just aren’t quite good or smart enough for them (superb tactics manipulators use to evoke simultaneous feelings of superiority and sympathy)? Continue reading “Manipulative People – Finding Your Way Out”

Resources for Healing and Empowerment

Below are the most important websites, books, videos where I discovered that I was dealing with a narcissist in my family, and how to work through the issues I need to resolve. Continue reading “Resources for Healing and Empowerment”

Verbal Abuse – Why Do They Act That Way?

For anyone who’s ever been involved with verbally abusive and manipulative people, at some point we ask ourselves:

Why Do They Act Like That?

Why does a cat stalk a mouse? Because it’s a predator. Even when well fed (as my cats have confirmed) it will still hunt. Continue reading “Verbal Abuse – Why Do They Act That Way?”

Budget Barcelona – Sightsee and Save Money

Want to visit Barcelona but have a tight budget? Here are some of the things I did to sightsee yet save money.

Frugal Tourism in Barcelona

Want to see Barcelona but not spend a fortune? To give you some ideas, here are a few things I did:  Continue reading “Budget Barcelona – Sightsee and Save Money”

My Top Attraction in Barcelona – Palau de la música catalana

The Palau de la música catalana stole my heart, a stunning building, renowned for its superb acoustics, Catalan Art Nouveau at its best.

It is a love poem written with mosaics and stained glass, dedicated to the joy of music.

You’ve probably heard of Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, Casa Mila (La Pedrera) or Casa Batlló. But when I saw the Palau de la música catalana, it was love at first sight, taking the #1 spot on my list of must-see attractions in Barcelona. Continue reading “My Top Attraction in Barcelona – Palau de la música catalana”

Helping out: Cuba’s Special Period – 1991

How did this happen? How did I end up sitting in front of this Communist official, completely dependent on him – or someone – helping me get back to Varadero?

It’s 1991, in a town several hours from Varadero. I’m sitting on a wood chair in front of a Poder Popular official. I watch him open his desk drawers one after another, riffle through papers and pull out all manner of miscellany. Except for the gas ration coupons I need. Continue reading “Helping out: Cuba’s Special Period – 1991”

Helping out in Cuba’s “Special Period” – Part 2

Even though it’s December, 1991, and I’m in Varadero, Cuba, this won’t be a beach vacation.

I have two suitcases full of clothes, soap, shampoo, aspirin, toothbrushes, toothpaste and sundry other items. Two people in need stand next to me. Only problem: at this time, getting around the island unobtrusively is next to impossible for your average tourist.  Continue reading “Helping out in Cuba’s “Special Period” – Part 2″

Helping out in Cuba – Soap, Shampoo & Che – Part 4

I stare at Che. The iconic poster hangs on the wall behind the official’s desk. It’s hot and stuffy in the office; air-conditioning hasn’t hit this part of Cuba. Was I insane, or just stupidly naive about my hare-brained scheme?

The Poder Popular fellow stops his search.  He sits back and looks at me.

“Maybe you’ll have to stay here in Cuba.”

He laughs. “I can’t find the gas ration coupons.” Continue reading “Helping out in Cuba – Soap, Shampoo & Che – Part 4”

Helping out in Cuba’s “Special Period” – Part 3

I’ve driven straight into 1959.

Not many people are on the streets, and hardly any vehicles, except for an occasional 40-year old Chevrolet behemoth.

The town must have been lovely at one time with its pastel-coloured houses and their red-tiled roofs. Now it needs several coats of paint and the broken patches of cracked plaster and stucco repaired. Continue reading “Helping out in Cuba’s “Special Period” – Part 3″

Hugged A Tarantula Lately? A Trek to Nicaragua

The lookout

As the plane flew over the sub-tropical forests on our approach to Managua, Nicaragua seems to be a thousand shades of green with a sprinkling of blue lakes and smoky grey volcanoes thrown in for good measure.

I would soon be introduced to another commonplace aspect of nature in this spectacularly scenic country, involving tarantulas dropping by to say hello. Continue reading “Hugged A Tarantula Lately? A Trek to Nicaragua”

El Chocoyero Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

“Shh.”  Manuel, Nicaragua’s own Dr. Doolittle, motions up and ahead of us on the forest trail.

I hear what I think are vehicles on the highway, then I realize we’re too far away for any traffic sounds to penetrate the dense sub-tropical forest we’re exploring.

“Los monos.”


Howler monkeys. Continue reading “El Chocoyero Nature Reserve, Nicaragua”

Hugged A Tarantula lately? Part 2

“El subjuntivo: presente, pretérito imperfecto, pretérito perfecto y el pluscuamperfecto.”

Classroom, Mariposa Spanish SchoolBergman valiantly tries to recapture our attention to the importance of Spanish subjunctive verbs as we watch hummingbirds flock to a tree just beyond the open window of our classroom.

A rooster saunters into the classroom, a hen following along behind. Continue reading “Hugged A Tarantula lately? Part 2”

Dance on an Empty Highway – Cuba 1991

“In case anyone asks, tell them you’re our cousins visiting from Canada,” Raul instructs us in Varadero as we drive off in a massive 1953 Oldsmobile, our transportation for the week.

I wonder how Claudia (a young Latin American friend who’s come with me on this trip), born of Bolivian parents and 8 shades darker than I am, and myself who, although pretty fluent in Spanish, am obviously not Latina, could be cousins to people who have never left Cuba and don’t have any relatives living in the U.S. or Canada. Continue reading “Dance on an Empty Highway – Cuba 1991”

Dance on an Empty Highway: Part 3

The transport truck drops us off beside a path that cuts through a field at the foot of the mountains. We skirt around a hefty bull grazing near the woods, and in about 20 minutes we arrive at a small, wood-framed house, half hidden amongst the trees. Continue reading “Dance on an Empty Highway: Part 3”