Now that I am almost totally recovered from my latest bout of Foot-in-Mouth disease thanks to eating a lot of Crow, I can turn my mind and my writing to other matters of more immediate importance.

But before I do, allow me to say that Foot-in-Mouth disease has been with me always, sort of like cold sores or pimples which are hard to avoid getting at some time in your life if you are human. For some strange reason, I never learned to keep my mouth shut, or that Silence was Golden, or that words once spoken (or written as is often my case) could not be taken back, or any of that adult wisdom which is so generously spooned out to young-uns. This doesn’t mean I can’t keep a secret; I am actually an excellent secret-keeper. If someone says to me: “Please don’t tell anyone what I am about to tell you,” I will put the forthcoming information in the forget-it box and never recall it again. My friends can attest to that. But if you do not give me those specific instructions when you share something with me, you run the risk of it appearing in a conversation later on or –more likely- in a blog-post, a letter, or even in a posthumous diary my children choose to publish. Everything is fodder for the beast of creativity and when it lets loose, there is little room for contemplation of dire consequences. My kids, now-a-days, come up with TMI (too much information) when my telling of a story exceeds the proper amount of editing, because they are used to my always adding more details than needed.cof

Now, on to other things such as the weather. The weather has been more than ghastly. It has been frightful, dreadful, horrendous, hideous, grisly, revolting, repulsive and downright gross! Having completely skipped over the need to produce a few frosts to kill vermin and mites (we had but three days below zero in November), winter has proceeded to weep its eyes out in drizzles, in torrents, in scattered drops, in mizzling mists (sort of like the kind of moisture spray you can buy to humidify your face)… nonstop! Apart from making Salome’s and my daily walks a kind of torture by water, the extreme humidity has cofprovoked a very early spring.

Yesterday it rained almost all day –give or take an hour or two around noon- and today we have even more. The Weather Man announced that our region was on Orange Alert (which is about stage three on a Def Com scale of 4) for flooding and the map of France was 98% grey with raindrops all through it. Thursday we had what had to be the most beautiful day in a cofmonth, during which the sun pushed its way through the clouds for at least two hours and no rain fell. But before and after that it has been one storm front after another, accompanied most times by strong winds that uproot trees from water-logged soil, topple lamp-posts, and strew the streets with dead leaves and branches. Even the roosters and hens are oznorwater-logged.

It’s not even the end of January and the daffodils are coming up, the camellias are blooming, lawns are filled with dandelions and the white and yellow polka dots of paquerettes (usually not seen until around Paques or Easter oznorweek) and I just sighted several printemps (the definite spring flower) peeping out under the bushes in a flower bed and even a lonely violet. And the temperature, apart from seldom going below 9ºC, pushes up to 13º, 14º and 15ºC during the day even without the help of sunlight. It seems that if we had sun, we would have summer already! And then there are some who deny the problem of climate change (won’t mention any names because of oznorthat F-in-M disease which could catch up with me next time I want to visit my son in Los Angeles).

Every once in a while I pause in my writing and turn to glance out the window only to certify that the rain keeps on falling. Oh well, it is Sunday, after all, and I have a couple of good movies to watch, so… until it is time for Salomé to go out again, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain (to the tune of ‘Let it snow…’)


In my last post I spoke of forgiving myself, but recent events have made me think about forgiveness in and of itself. I have come to believe, through personal experience, that the best definition of forgiveness is the one that Byron Katie gives: “Forgiveness is the realization that what you thought happened, didn’t.”

This is true: if I believe someone has done something wrong to me, I can question the belief that they did it to me which invariably leads me to see quite plainly that it had nothing to do with me and it was only I, myself, taking it personally that caused the pain. If someone hits, insults or in some way tries to harm me, I can understand that they are doing the best they can in that moment with what they are believing about me or about themselves (they are striking out against the person they believe me to be, not who I really am). This, of course, doesn’t mean that I will stick around and let them continue abusing me or themselves, but understanding that they are doing the best they can with what they believe in the moment, allows me to see that it has nothing to do with me and therefore there is nothing to forgive.

Voilà an example:

I had quit drinking –let´s say- three months earlier, in other words I still wasn’t emotionally very sober. My mother came over to our house (I was still married then) for supper and she came through the door gaily announcing to my husband: “Fernando, your drinking partner is here because Brianda no longer drinks.” I flew into a red rage MAMA–doubly so, because my husband couldn’t understand what I was so angry about- said a couple of nasty things in a loud voice and stomped off to the bedroom. The thought was: ‘How can she be so cruel’, obviously to me. That scene alone sufficed for years to prove to me how unloving my mother was which, of course, was one of the reasons I was so messed up.

It wasn’t till years later, many years later (after my mother had died, actually), that I questioned that belief, thinking it was time to forgive her. The thought was: she was being cruel. As I viewed the scene, in my mind’s eye, first holding the thought (still rage) and then without the thought (sudden realization and laughter), I saw clearly that her entering announcement had nothing to do with me. It was my mother being her usual flirtatious, playful, man-attracting self that always wanted attention (but only all of it). As I watched the scene play over again and again in my mind’s eye, I felt a wave of love for my mother, a smile spread across my face and a mad desire to run and embrace her took hold of me. I felt so sorry I had treated her badly at that moment. It was then I realized that there was nothing to forgive, there never had been. There was a sadness in my work that day for, when I turned the thought around (I was being cruel to her) I could definitely see that I had been, attacking her directly with every intention of hurting her. But The Work freed me. It freed me to love my mother with all my heart which is my birth right.

Even forgiving myself is understanding that there is nothing to forgive: I can’t know to do any better than I know to do in each moment; when I raged out at my mother, I was still believing all my thoughts. It would be many years before I was freed from this. So when I said in the previous post that I forgave myself, it actually was saying that I1944-1 Poughkeepsie25042014 (2) realized I had done the best I knew how to do with the information I had at the moment and that now, with new information, I would hopefully not repeat the mistake. Slate wiped clean.

So this is what Katie means when she says that forgiveness is understanding that there is nothing to forgive; that we are all, in every moment, doing the best we can with what we believe.

Unfortunately, the person who supposedly (the harm is done, she said, but never specified where or how) suffered the wrong I unwittingly committed, does not feel the same way. For her there is no forgiveness possible. I would not know this for sure (although I suspected it would be so, knowing this person) until yesterday morning when I worked up enough courage to walk into town and enter the café where we gather.

cofAs far as the group went, there was only one person (whom I will call our local Drama Queen because she is always in a state of righteous anger about something somewhere she has found wrong) in the Café and I walked over to say hello. Before I could reach her, she swung around on her barstool and told me she was furious with me because I had fought with the other member of the group and therefore she –the person I had fought with- wouldn’t be coming to the coffee group any more as long as I was there, and therefore the Drama Queen would never see her again. I politely, but firmly, set the story right (I did not fight with her, I made a mistake and she was apparently hurt by it) and told her not to worry, that it would be me quitting the group so the other friend could come. I realized, in that moment, that I had made a decision.

The ironic thing about this scene is that the person whom I hurt and was not going to come to the café any more, can’t stand the Drama Queen who was so bitterly lamenting that she would never see her again (something ridiculous as they live in the same town and if they were friends they could visit each other; but they are not even friends). Anyway, I sat alone and drank my coffee and then left.

WINDOWStrangely, as I walked home, the thought of not going to the café every morning for coffee didn’t weigh me down; on the contrary, I felt lighter. Inside, there was a conviction that the Universe never closes a door without opening a window, and all of a sudden I began looking forward to what might come next. Yes, during the afternoon, I had a couple of down-thoughts (I won’t have the group to buy presents for when I travel any more, and there will be no birthday celebration for me on the 1st of August this year) and a slight feeling of loss swept through my chest thinking of the friend who will not forgive, but on the whole I felt pretty good. During the afternoon, I wrote to the coffee group and explained the situation without going into details, and announced that I would be retiring from the group out of respect for the ‘injured’ party who had been there long before me.

One friend answered, it was the artist and sculptress. She jokingly suggested that instead of a café group we form a restaurant group and invited me to join her and some painter friends for lunch the following day (today). I gratefully accepted, and there it was: new beginnings. Added to that, a dear friend who reads my blog, alerted by the last post, emailed me to let me know she was there if I needed anything. That felt so sweet that grateful tears filled my eyes.

img_5192This morning I went to another café (where the coffee is slightly more expensive but much, much better) and had a jolly conversation with a woman who was visiting from a nearby village (in French!). Then at noon, I met the Artist lady and her friends, spent a delightful two hours and had a delicious lunch. C’est la vie, what to do, that’s life!


You will stumble.                                                                                                                              You will fall and bruise yourself. You will feel like giving up.

The path won’t always seem clear.

But remember, friend: You are forever on the path.                                                                         Losing the path is part of the path. Forgetting the path is part of the path.

Your true path cannot be lost.                                                                                                      Your true path is wherever you are.      (Jeff Foster)


So I made a mistake…  no doubt about it, a big mistake, something that apparently hurt another person, or at least they think so and have told me in so many words that they are very disappointed in me. I am not going to talk about the mistake as such, but rather about its effect on me. I know everyone has made mistakes and I am sure I am not the only one who has reacted in the manner I am about to describe.

I had no idea I had erred until this person called me on the phone, said that they were furious with me and told me why. At that moment, I saw the mistake, the big one. I felt as if the bottom of my life had just dropped out and everything I held dear was draining away. The sinking feeling was accompanied by the realization of my absolute powerlessness: the mistake had been made, there was nothing that could change it, it was already in the past, soldered there for all of eternity.

I immediately said I was sorry, that I had meant no harm, that they were absolutely right and I was responsible and how could I make it right. As the mistake was in writing, I offered to erase what had been written, although as that person so rightly pointed out, I could not erase what had already been read: the harm was done (according to them).

Anyway, I did what I could to correct the uncorrectable and then asked if there was anything else I could do. The answer was once more that this person was very disappointed in me and that the harm was already done. It sounded pretty final.

There was nothing left to do but to live with the MISTAKE, which is punishment enough as everyone must well know. So for two days now, I have been living with the mistake. Of course, living with it seemed –at first- like doom: there was nothing I could do, nothing that would change what had been done, nothing to avoid being rejected by everyone who had contact with this person if they decided to inform (warn) their friends. The feeling of doom –which was so disastrous that it made me contemplate the possibility of having to move away from my beloved little village-, was followed by a devastating feeling of shame. All I wanted was a hole to crawl into, and it didn’t have to be very big, given the diminished state in which I found myself.

But something was different from other times when making a mistake had seemed like the end of the world. There was a part of me that stepped outside of the bowed and shameful me, and looked on kindly, perhaps even embraced me at a given moment. So warm was this embrace that sweet tears would fill my eyes and help me get past the sinking feeling and back into the living world.

During these two days, days that felt like I was mourning the death of someone dear (myself, no doubt), that larger presence never left me and every time I took a dive into the depths of despair, there would be a hand there and a kind of soft knowledge that nothing happens but for the best. I can’t count the times I have felt tears coming and dribbling down my cheeks and in each instance that other presence would patiently wait, holding me until the feeling of unworthiness passed.

Then today she/it, asked the question: “You shouldn’t have made a mistake, is that true?” and I couldn’t find a ‘yes’, because it happened. I looked hard at my state of mind immediately before and right after “making the mistake” and saw clearly that –not only was there no intention (that was obvious and that is why it is called a mistake) – but neither was here any thought whatsoever that there might be a mistake contained in my action: in other words, it was as irreflexive as it was irresponsible: a ‘disaster’ produced in a child’s irreflexive action. It wasn’t only that I meant no harm, but rather that it never occurred to me to think harm or good might come of my action: it was just an action, an action without a future such as children perform. I can add all the “should-have’s” I want to it but they didn’t exist in the moment. There was only excitement, the excitement of a ‘child’ who discovers something and wishes to share it with others. As I realized this, she/it asked another question: Did you make amends? ‘Absolutely!’ I answered, ‘in the instant in which I realized the mistake, and I offered to make more if there were any more demanded.’ Did you understand clearly what the mistake was so that you won’t make it ever again if you can help it? ‘Oh yes!!!’ I cried, feeling completely certain that nothing like that would ever happen again from my conscious mind. Then your work is done – she/it said- and you don’t need that person’s forgiveness, you need your own, which is the only one that will set you free.

In that instant I knew she/it was right: I had to forgive myself for being human… No, much more: I had to love myself for being so human as to make blatant mistakes… and survive. Suddenly a weight was lifted from me and once more tears filled my eyes, but this time they were tears of understanding and love and tenderness. I realized finally that if the other person wanted to stay in a place of insisting that what had happened shouldn’t have happened (unforgiving), that was their problem. And what is more, I knew that I couldn’t be sure a greater good wouldn’t come from this ‘mistake’ both for the other person and for myself (mine has already come, I think I have learned an important lesson), so I am watching and waiting. At any rate, my experience is that this is always the case, but only always.



Dream. In last night’s dream, I was at some kind of gathering and this girl was attempting to work with her therapist who was trying all sorts of complicated stuff that I could see wasn’t doing the trick. In a given moment, I turned to the girl and asked: “What do you want?” She looked ghost-stricken: “What do I want?” “Yes,” I said, “what do you want?”

In the dream, I felt good about having fired such a pointed question. The girl then asked me if she could have a session with me and I said “Fine, this afternoon”. Then I went out into the street, passed a very elegant office building and went in thinking that if one of the elegant offices wasn’t in use I could give her the session there and impress her. While I was talking to the clerk to arrange it, I changed my mind and remembered that I worked really well out of my own apartment.

The scene changed and I was in –apparently- my apartment (didn’t look familiar) and the girl arrived; other people –perhaps her friends- were present to watch. She came with a dog, a puppy, and I had a dog; in the dream there seemed to be several dogs. There was a lot of confusion, bustle and noise that wasn’t allowing me to start the session, so I asked everyone to help get the dogs and ‘children’ (there were little children running around) out of the room.

Somehow, clearing the room wasn’t possible and a lot of time was lost trying to do so. Then when we were about to begin, the girl began talking to someone with long blond hair -apparently her travel agent- who was helping her fill in a Visa form. I insisted she pay attention, but she said she had to fill in the Visa form because she was planning a trip. Then she asked if she would have to pay for the session anyway and I said ‘Of course’, and immediately thought of the example of renting a hotel room and not using it, but having to pay for it anyway. Then I turned and said to her:

“You see: you don’t know what you want.” And with that avouchment, I awoke.

Of course, I am both the therapist and the girl in the dream. I am both asking ‘what I want’ and not knowing ‘what I want’, which in real life leads me to fill the time with ‘friends’ (FB, games, what I call ‘wasting time’), a dog and a trip (Visa) without answering the question. Now that I am reading again (I mean reading literature, real published books), persistently, I see writers who WRITE, and publish (internet is not publishing, its electronic grafitti according to someone I overheard once) and do it well. I see my impossibility and fruitlessness in the writing field. I read: “A writer sits down every day and does it; first drafts are always shitty”… I jot down ideas, begin useless pages that never continue, copy quotes that ‘inspire’ me… and still I do not write, not a book. Actually, I haven’t written anything bookable since I stopped drinking 26 years ago; whatever I have published after that has been just a ‘refrito’ as we say in Mexico: a refrying of things already written before. And my blog, everyday stuff, nothing serious. Therefore if I ask: Do I want to write? I would have to say that it seems not, at least not professionally.

So the question remains: ‘What do I want?’ From the above I can deduce that I want to DO something that gives my life meaning… and whatever that might be, to be valid it would have to be recognized by others… And there’s the “rub” as our old friend, Shakespeare, said.

So it would seem that what I want is to give my today life some meaning (in the eyes of others, of course, and therefore in mine) and playing solitaire in its diverse forms to whittle away the hours is not generally what one is remembered for all through Sin títuloposterity! Like: “Oh, you remember Brianda? She was an A-1 Solitaire player, beat the computer every time! Incredible” or even in the present: “Hi, how is that fantastic game of solitaire going? Still winning? You must come and give us a conference sometime on how you do it. Everyone will be so thrilled. Have you ever considered giving a TED talk?” No, not exactly what playing solitaire gets you, although I do win an uncountable amount of imaginary coins.

My blog sometimes gets me some nice, almost immediate recognition from the one or two people who read it and deign to comment, which is certainly a ‘timely’ improvement over books that take years to write, idem to publish and receive at least half as much negative feedback as positive.

oznorAnd it is obvious that the FB page I started (A GRAIN of SAND) was to be noticed and applauded as the initiator of a world-changing movement (¡Ha!) with millions of followers placing their grain of sand for the betterment of the planet. Sometimes I make myself sick of myself (yes, the repetition is on purpose)! Just yesterday, when I took my morning walk, the world was so absolutely perfect that I could find not one thing do-able to ‘improve’ it. However, I must admit that looking for something to do in that sense made me really appreciate the beauty of the morning washed clean by the night’s rain and sparkling as I had not seen for more than a week.

This morning I gave myself permission to pass over the possibility of picking up multiple pieces of trash in the gutters along my way and actually gifted me with a beautiful, freshcof head of lettuce from the Saturday market. Then, as if this were not enough to make my day, I stopped to chat with an acquaintance who was tending to her flowering red camellia. We exchanged a few platitudes about Nature’s confusion what with the weather seeming like spring when winter was still upon us, and she handed me –over the fence- two lovely camellia buds that she had obviously picked for her own living room. So, admittedly, the world had just made me a better place.

mdeSo the dream is speaking to me, it is telling me to stop and look and answer the question… or perhaps to ask other questions such as: ‘I need to know what I want… is that true?’ Or, as Byron Katie would say, ‘What I want is what is’… How do I know that? Because that is what is… Sometimes I feel like saying: ‘Shut-up, Katie!’

But no, her voice is loud and clear in my e-mail box: “The original stressful thought is the thought of an “I”. Before that thought, there was peace. A thought is born out of nothing and instantly goes back to where it came from. If you look before, between, and after your thoughts, you’ll see that there is only a vast openness. That’s the space of don’t-know. It’s who we really are. It’s the source of everything, it contains everything: life and death, beginning, middle and end.”

But coming back to ME… I am still quite entangled with my “I” that is constantly asking me what I want to do, in the waking and the dreaming worlds. So I say to myself: “Look around: what do other people do?” And I find that they do exactly as I do: carry on with life as best they can and be thankful for having so much that is undeserved.






It was definitely a stroke of arrogance that made me write out a sign that reads: “WHAT CAN I DO TODAY TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE”, like that, in redcof letters, and pin it on my door to remind me as I leave the apartment that I have a debt with existence and that I can actually do something about it. How do I know it was arrogance? Because immediately after placing said sign in the designated place, I went to Facebook and found a video progressively describing, first the planets, then the stars, then the galaxies, and finally the infinite universes in the MULTIVERSE, which brought tears to my eyes and led me to ‘share’ it under the heading: “…and then there is me…”  (  Did I get the imagesW9SQ371Wmessage and leave well enough alone? You know damn well I didn’t! No! Actually, I completely ignored the message -which in no uncertain terms showed me my actual importance- and began to feel all puffed up and proud of my act of generosity in wanting to do my part in making the world a better place, Me… Yes, the same me.

As a matter of fact, I began feeling so good about it, that there was a moment of euphoria (always a bad sign) during which I convinced myself that my idea was so good it was actually worth sharing. Supposing –the argument in my head went-, just supposing that my little brainstorm was sooo inspiring as to get others to do the same, as to start a movement, as to actually influence the state of affairs of the world. I began to get excited, to feel importantme (yup, same one). So I went back to Facebook and clicked on the ‘create a Facebook page’, images 2or whatever it’s called, button; I thought up a name (A GRAIN of SAND) without imagining that there probably were umpteen pages with that same name and similar purposes already on Facebook; I looked for a photograph of a beach and cut it down to size for the page; and I wrote out what seemed to me to be a purpose (do small acts that better the world and record them on the page). Then I happily ticked off everyone on my “friends” list and asked them to like and join the page. There was a ‘rush’, a ripple of excitement and self-importance as I pushed the fleeting thought of a million followers to the back of my mind (it interfered with my assumed humility) and saw the world being transformed because of my one simple inspiration.

Then I realized that –as I was administering the page and inviting everyone to share- I should begin by writing what I had done that day ‘to make the world a better place’. And that was when reality stepped back in. What had I done, precisely, to make the world a better place? Blank… Lamely I wrote that ‘I had started the Facebook page as my oneedf grain of sand’. It sounded so presumptuous! Then I remembered I had picked up some empty beer cans that somebody –probably a group of young men out on the town which in Salies is not very exciting- had left on the lawn of a nearby nursing home, so I noted that down, but instead of the expected feel-good (me… look what I did!!!), I experienced the act as useless. After all, there was undoubtedly someone in charge of the green areas around the nursing home as the grass was cut and the bushes trimmed, so I was just doing what someone else would do when he or she came around. Lamely, I added that my grain of sand that day included smiling at everyone I passed on the street on my way to coffee in the morning. That cinched it. By that time, I was feeling miserable, lower than low. After all, I can smile at people because I have the advantage of living in a small town; if I did that in a big city, like Madrid or Paris, I would probably be considered looney rather than ‘kind’ or plain indecent. I know: I’ve tried it.imagesNQF3S8VV

I clicked ‘Publish’ and saw my lame ‘contribution’ go up on the page and suddenly everything that had inflated, deflated; my chest caved in, my stomach twisted up. Who… just who did I think I was. If I had known how to erase the whole thing I would have in that moment, but the invitation sent out was being responded to by loving people who perhaps didn’t see how ridiculous I was or did and just wanted to make me feel better, and I had no idea how to eliminate everything anyway (I hadn’t even known how to create it adequately and somehow had made a ‘commercial’ page which FB kept asking me to promote). I went to bed that evening feeling lonely and useless and ridiculous, in other words: totally depressed. Nightmares of frustration and despair populated my sleeping hours to the point where it was a relief to wake up.

026 (2)This morning I realized that the only way to make the world a better place today was to take care of myself, so I let myself have a little cry hugging me tightly all the while, finally smiled at my innocence, told myself that the silly FB page would do no one any harm, not even me and set off for my morning coffee with faithful Salomé who –in her dog world- does not suffer from these insane flights of ego (up and down, always up and then down). On the way, what did I see but a little grain of sand for me to add to the world’s beach: the wind –which has continued to blow all day- had swept the black garbage bagcof out of one of the town’s blue waste baskets (light blue is the Béarnaise color and shows up in most of the public fixtures) where I was about to place the poo-bag I had used to clean up after Salomé. I placed the poo-bag on the ground, picked up the black plastic garbage bag –which was empty- and replaced it in the light blue waste basket; cofthen I put the poo-bag inside to weigh it down.

My contribution to making the world a better place, I thought to myself, smiling as I continued my walk noticing at every step how absolutely perfect the world is without me tending to it.




It is January 1, 2018 and I am sitting in my small apartment in Salies de Béarn thinking about writing this piece to begin the year. I am happy. It is pouring rain, the wind is howling around with a tempest called “Carmen” which will continue all through the week; according to the weather man there is no chance we will see the sun until Sunday (how appropriate!) and today is only Monday. And I am happy and peaceful.

cofTwo days ago (that would be the 30th of December, 2017) I awoke at 9:30 in the morning in the small hotel where I always stay in Madrid. It was a beautiful, sunny day so I decided that, in spite of possible jet-lag, I would make the 6 hour drive home that very day. But there was nocof

jet-lag and the drive was easy, and I even went the extra 10 kilometers to pick up Salomé before heading home.

The no-jet-lag was definitely a surprise, but perhaps I should start at the beginning.

This year my son had invited the whole family to spend Christmas at his house in Lake Tahoe. After enjoying two days in Madrid, where I was treated to the most incredible oznorsunset over the city, I flew to Los Angeles on the 19th of December and spent the night in my son’s house in Malibu; the following day, we (my son, his wife, me, three grandchildren and their little dog) drove in two cars to Lake Tahoe (10 hours); it was snowing when we arrived (delightful). To make a long story short, a couple of days later my daughter and two more grandchildren arrived, one of them with his girlfriend. By that time we were 10; one other grandson –who had to work over Xmas- spent three days with us before returning to L.A. My son’s eldest male offspring arrived on the 25th with his girlfriend making us an even dozen.

IMG-20171224-WA0026Now consider that I spend 99 percent of my time living alone in a small apartment with a dog that doesn’t even bark; I hardly ever put on music and the only sound I hear is when I watch a movie or while talking with someone over Skype. I am my own boss: I eat, play and sleep when I want, what I want and with or without whomever I want. So the idea of spending 9 days with 12 other people –no matter how close to my heart they are- was daunting to say the least. Would I be able to stand it? Would I get irritated? Would I find myself running off to hide in my room most of the time? Were there going to be fights, unpleasantness, criticisms… I admit I was, at moments, a bit frazzled.

However, once there I began to have the time of my life. Yes, at moments the noise levelIMG-20171223-WA0010 was daunting with no one listening and everyone talking at once in voices that got louder and louder as everyone strove to dominate the general mayhem, and occasionally I found myself going hoarse in my effort to get a message across and finally giving up; I admit that –added to this- the constant musical background without which modern generations seem unable to live seemed absolutely unnecessary as it was never actually listened to. (I am tempted to remember that in my days and those of my parents, we put on music and then sat down and actually listened to it without talking. Music constituted an art form to be enjoyed of and by itself. Today, I’m afraid, people appreciate music the way my mother appreciated the Louvre, a museum she went through in less than 15 cofminutes.) The day everyone went skiing and I stayed home alone, my son asked if I wanted him to put on some music for me (he kindly thought that it might make me feel less lonely, as if being alone ever made me feel lonely) and I said “most certainly not!” and proceeded to enjoy the absolute silence.

Except for that one day, I spent every waking moment with the family: helping in the kitchen, making the gravy for the turkey, washing the dishes, playing table games with my grandchildren, shopping for food, petting or walking the dogs, fixing my own breakfast, mixing granola to share with the grandchildren or just sitting and watching and listening to my cofwonderful, beautiful family. I don’t remember a happier Christmas in my whole life, and it wasn’t at all about presents. Yes, presents were given, but somehow they weren’t the center of attention; they were almost like an afterthought. Much more important were the conversations, the hugs, the caresses, the games we played and all the times I got the giggles with one cofgrandchild or another. Everyone participated in the preparation of meals and I loved just being one more cog in the machinery of cooking and cleaning up.

When the moment my departure came, I realized that I would have loved to stay another four or five days until after New Year’s; I feared I would be terribly sad upon leaving. Apart from separating from the family, I had booked myself 26 hours of travel which made the prospect even less promising. But then I did something I had never done, and everything was perfect. I left without leaving. From the moment I stepped into the Uber car for my drive to the Reno airport, I began documenting my trip by taking photos and then sending them by Whatsapp to the family site so that every moment of the trip I was still with them and they were with me.cof

There was the picture of Lake Tahoe from the mountain top as we drove towards Reno; (below which I wrote “I still see you!!”); then cofan image of sprawling Los Angeles right before landing.

In the terminal, where I had a 7 hour layover, the “I Love L.A.” oznorsign over a store in the airport, the moving belt where I waited for my luggage, my suitcase coming down the chute and then the two matching bags standing side by side were all recorded and duly sent. I kept taking pictures and sending the info of my progress coftowards home, and this way, I realized that I hadn’t really left, I could still imagine each member of my family hearing the ‘ding’ of his or her phone, gazing at the screen and connecting with me upon receiving the photo.

My hours in L.A. airport became pictures of what I ate in the VIP lounge, of a hat on a stand outside a store which read: “I can’t Adult today” which was exactly how I was feeling in my playful mood; there were pictures of other coftravelers crossing my path; of a frozen yoghurt I treated myself to in memory of another time when I had shared one at the same stand with my daughter and granddaughter; of me reclining in a comfy chair; of the moving walkway where I cofstrolled back and forth to get my exercise of the day; of the luminous Iberia sign announcing that the flight would leave on time and that boarding was to begin at 8:50p.m. It became a game in which I was the only player and I was having a great time. I knew the other family members would be looking at different moments and soburst felt connected to them even if there made no comments: they were busy still having their own fun. But I was taking them with me at the same time: there was no way I was letting go.

sdrThere is a picture of the people ahead of me going down the jet way onto the plane; and of me in my seat with my feet up, followed by a shot of L.A. lights on takeoff. mde

Then I settled into my usual routine on long flights: supper and then a sleeping pill. I awoke 5 hours later perfectly rested, took a picture of the moon over the wing against a beautiful blue skycof and sent it to the family. Still in touch. I followed with a snapshot of the porthole, wing and a bed of clouds below; and finally of the London landing fieldcof at Heathrow the evening of the 29th as I sat in the plane for over 30 minutes waiting for a slot to disembark and fearing I would miss my connection to Madrid. Finally, after the usual race through Heathrow airport convinced that I would never make it, I sent a photo showing my boarding gate as closed (panic) and then one discovering that they had changed the



gate and my flight to Madrid was delayed. Plenty of time to board. Once more, a selfie of me sitting in my seat for the final leg of the


journey. By the time we took off, I had been travelling for 24 hours although, by clock time, I would lose a total of 9 hours in the transit. I landed in Madrid an hour and a half later (which by the clock was two hours and a half because of the time difference), picked up cofmy car and drove to the hotel, arriving exactly 27 hours after leaving Tahoe; I was –by then- quite tired. The last two pictures I sent were of a bowl of hot soup I had in the restaurant for supper with the caption: “warm soup for good little girls”, and my hotel room. Then I crashed.

And yet, I was not home. The following morning (after sleeping 9 whole hours) I hopped in my car and took off, continuing mysdr

pictorial journal with photos of the fog filled highway, and then the clear skies once leaving the central part of Spain, a photo ofsdr

my luncheon salad and detox juice in a place called Quintalapalla, and finally the picture of little Salomé on the car seat beside me which appears at the beginning of this post, and the sunset from my bedroom window. I was home.

I sent a message of thanks to my family for the wonderful, wonderful holiday and unpacked. Surprisingly enough I have neither suffered from jetlag nor from sadness or solitude. Everything about the trip was so perfect, even the way I ended it; where would sadness fit in? It turns out that nowhere! WHAT A WAY TO END 2017!!!


I find my spam mail getting more interesting every day. I am either offered sex in varying degrees of extreme -although they have my gender wrong-, bitcoins (a lot of bitcoins) as a fast track to getting stinking rich, or a sure-fire way to avoid funeral expenses by planning ahead (this is getting more and more frequent since I turned 75… maybe somebody is on to me).

I wouldn’t mind the sex spam except they obviously don’t know –or don’t care- that my name is Spanish and that Spanish names ending in “a” pertain to females. Instead of a great ‘suck’ or very liberal Russian ‘ladies’, or totally uninhibited anal sex, they could offer me a delightful dinner date in a nice restaurant with someone tall, dark and handsome; dancing later and then a good snuggle including sex if I was in the mood. That might get my interest, especially the ‘good dinner’ part. Another catcher would be afternoon coffee and ice-cream with a slim, tall, good-looking intellectual who has read my books and finds them incredible and wants nothing more than to talk to me about them before we have sex or instead of sex… depending. That would be a clincher: it is so hard to find a man interested in what a woman does.

As for bitcoins, I admit to liking money or rather, the kind of life-style that money can allow me, but bitcoins??? I had to look them up on Wikipedia for –although I had heard of them- I really had no idea how they worked. Even Wiki was not very helpful: a cryptocurrency? The first decentralized digital currency? “…the system works without a central repository or single administrator. The network is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly through the use of cryptography, without an intermediary…” The transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a blockchain… Ok, you lost me. I still remember the marvel of sticking a plastic card in a box with a screen, punching in a bunch of numbers (including the amount of cash you wanted) and getting a nice wad of bills (euros, dollars, even Mexican pesos) in your greedy little paw: now that is magic! I love it when my purse is heavy with coins and my wallet fat with bills; and, yes, I have done bank transfers where the money never actually materializes but rather is just a series of numbers passing from one supposed ‘account’ to another; and, yes, I know that those numbers on my balance sheet are not actually kept in a box in the bank I use… but still, cryptocurrency? And yes, I am conscious that a 50€ bill is nothing but a worthless piece of paper to which we have attached a belief (that it is valuable), and that is supposedly (but not really) backed up by a metal (gold) to which we have also attached a belief (that it is valuable, more so –say- than tin) and that all these beliefs have no reality to them, but bitcoins… that is going to take some getting used to. So send me spam about how you are going to give me 100€ or 100,000€ because my e-mail was pulled out of a hat, but don’t offer me bitcoins if you want me to read your spam (I won’t read the other either, but you will tempt me).

And funeral expenses… well, let me see. The last time I talked about anything to do with funerals was with my son. He asked me what I wanted done with my ‘remains’ when I died. I didn’t even have to think: “Whatever you need to do with them” I replied. “If you need some kind of ceremony, then that’s fine with me; if not, that’s fine with me also. I… what I consider ‘I’ won’t be there, so whatever you decide to do with the ‘remains’ to make yourself and your sister more comfortable with my parting that is what you should do.” After all, I wasn’t about to ask for an elaborate funeral seeing as my father’s ashes –except a small amount my mother kept in a pouch to be mixed with hers when she died- went to fertilize a tree on a property that I later sold; they did a marvellous job until an extreme frost one spring killed the tree. My mother’s ashes –except for a soup spoonful that went into the pouch- were placed in a large flower pot holding a decorative ficus tree. (This was not a good idea and I do not suggest you do it with my ashes or anyone’s for that matter, because the water that gathers in the dish under the plant… smells awful.) When I moved to France, I gave the tree to a friend; it eventually died after a few years. The small pouch with the remaining parental ashes and a stone to make sure it sank ended up in Lake Tahoe where they had been as newlyweds; the gesture was for me: it gave me any closure I might have still needed.

So much for Spam. Spoof is another matter. I actually enjoy getting Spoof mail, especially from a make-believe Paypal or Amazon. I say I enjoy it because catching the pretenders makes me feel smart and then I get to revenge myself by forwarding the spoof mail to the real Paypal or the real Amazon (both of which have ‘Spoof Departments’ at or ) so they can take care of it. It’s sort of like catching the mouse trying to get into the cheese cabinet: Gotcha!


The Silence BreakersTIME MAGAZINE has named the female whistle-blowers on sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or sexual abuse the Person(s) of the Year and I, for one, am immensely pleased. Reading their stories, beginning with Taylor Swift’s, made me conscious not only of the extent to which some men seem to view women as their own personal prey, but also to the courage that each of these women and the thousands that now stand behind them, needed to come forth. It also made me think of my personal experience in this matter.

I was in 4th grade and one or two of the boys seemed to think I was fair game for their habitual torture, which consisted in lifting girls’ skirts and showing their panties. Suddenly it seemed they had chosen me for their victim and at every chance they got they would sweep by pulling up my skirt and whistling or hooting. I remember feeling embarrassed and helpless (our uniform obliged us to wear skirts). It didn’t occur to me to tell on them (fear of disapproval and rejection was stronger than shame) but I did finally come up with a solution: I began wearing shorts under my skirts so that when they pulled it up, there was nothing to see and that gave me the last laugh. That ended their game, and I don’t remember them ever trying to do it again.1956-8 House in Las Brisas (5)

My second experience of ‘sexual harassment was nowhere as innocent as this. When it happened I was probably younger than any of the women who have spoken out. I was 13 and had just begun to develop breasts –something that I tried to hide as best I could. What happened was during our vacations in Acapulco (Mexico) at a house my father had bought in Las Brisas, overlooking the beautiful bay. My grandparents were visiting. That day, my parents, my grandmother and probably my little brother had gone shopping. I stayed home with my grandfather who I had always loved very much. He was one of the persons I had most fun with and we always played gin rummy when he was visiting (he almost always won as the card shark he was, but occasionally I would win and that would feel wonderful).

I was in our swimming pool just fooling around and my grandfather, who had been sitting in a deck chair sipping a highball, stood up and slipped into the water. For a while he floated on his back while I continued swimming and diving (playing dolphin). Then suddenly, I felt a pair of hands come around me from behind and cup my nascent breasts fondling them roughly. I struggled free, scrambled out of the pool and ran to my bedroom where I locked the door. When my mother came home a while later I was huddled on the floor next to the bed still crying. She asked what had happened.

“Arthur” –I had always called him by his name- “grabbed my breasts and squeezed them,” I blurted out. I think my mother hugged me (I don’t remember and she never was very physical) and what she said was, “Don’t pay any attention to it; it’s not important. Old men get that way sometimes.” When I stopped crying, she added: “And please, don’t tell your grandmother; it would make her feel terrible.”

At that time I didn’t see the contradiction between me –the victim- not taking it seriously and my grandmother ‘feeling terrible’; I just did what I was told and said nothing. However, not taking it seriously was not in my power; I simply hid what I felt, but I didn’t ever go near my grandfather again, not –at least- until I was 21. Today I can see that the price I paid for that was to lose my grandfather, my love for him and the fun we had together. Today that makes me sad. However, in the long run, I was fortunate because I was able to forgive him before he died.

At 21 I was married and expecting my first child (who would be born within a month). On our way to Massachusetts, my husband and I spent the night at my grandparent’s apartment in Larchmont (N.Y. State). In the morning, I walked into the kitchen. My Scan0009grandmother was cooking something on the stove and my grandfather was sitting at the table, hunched over. I immediately saw how old he had gotten and my heart softened. I came up behind him, leaned over and hugged him for the first time in 8 years. I put my cheek next to his and whispered ‘I love you, Arthur’ and kissed him on the cheek. We left shortly afterwards and I never saw him again: he died one week before my son’s birth.

Years later, when I was studying to become a writer, one of my first stories would recall this childhood incident. I titled it: “A Time for Sunset”. When it was finished, I sent it off to several magazines but they all returned it without comments, so I put it away and forgot about it. Today, I have no idea where it is, perhaps in a folder stashed away in a closet, or maybe it has gotten lost during one of my many moves. No matter; today it is not an issue and I can even believe that he truly thought I wouldn’t notice. I know in my heart he would not have wanted to hurt me, but a man like him –with multiple addictions (alcohol, gambling, women)- was not the ‘master of his soul’.

Today I can look back and understand better because I no longer believe my thoughts, such as ‘he shouldn’t have touched me’ when it was obvious that that was exactly what he did. I do not know what story my grandfather told himself that permitted him to do that to his young granddaughter (perhaps he thought I wouldn’t notice, that I would think he was playing, I can’t know); I only know that it cost him her love and closeness. I do know, however, the story I told myself: in my innocence, I judged him and found him guilty; it was righteous of me, there was no room for forgiveness or even giving him a second chance. If –as probably was the case- he had judged me too innocent to be aware of his intentions, I had judged him too evil to be forgiven. So, in the long run, it was my judgment that cost me my grandfather.

Years later, I had begun working as a translator to earn money –I was still married- and upon finishing my first translation I went to one of my teachers at the University to ask him to look over it for me and help me correct it. He was a known writer in Mexico at that time and he seemed like the perfect candidate to help me do a good job. When he had finished, he asked straight out if I was going to pay him. It hadn’t occurred to me that he would want to be paid and I was taken aback (besides, it was going to be the first money I had ever earned and I didn’t want to share it). He saw my confusion.

“Ok. You can pay me with a kiss, then,” he said, looking me directly in the eye. I felt flustered and uncomfortable, and when he took my arm to pull me towards him, I quickly leaned in, gave him a peck on the cheek and then sprang back and free from his grasp. Standing up, I lamely thanked him for his help, swung around and walked out. Once more, I felt ashamed, in this case because I had acted like such a child never thinking that he would want something in return for helping me. If my thought at the time was that he had been ‘abusive’, I must also see that in thinking he should do my work for free, I was being abusive. So it is interesting how everything turns around perfectly and teaches me the lesson I need to learn.

sex-harass[1]This is not to say that harassment, abuse or any other sexual manipulation of women by men (or of men by women) should be tolerated. Action must be taken and the wrongs righted both for the victim’s and for the perpetrator’s sakes. An abuser allowed to continue cannot love himself, just as a victim who allows the abuse to continue cannot love herself. Yet the judgments of the abuser that the victim holds to be true will –until questioned and understood- stain his or her view of the world. In my own experience, it is not the punishment of the perpetrator that sets us free, but rather the sincere questioning of our own judgments and beliefs.



oznorActually, the special day began yesterday, precisely at 4:38 in the afternoon. Some people might find it strange that a special day begins with a gold inlay falling out of my top, left molar thanks to a piece of chewing gum that I was… well, chewing on. That was when the luck started: I didn’t swallow the inlay which –give or take a few- is probably around 60 years old. I have my marvelous dentist in Mexico City –Dr. Carlos Cornish who died quite some time ago- to thank for the long life of the inlay, and the chewing gum for the fact that I didn’t swallow it. I extracted the gold piece from the gum and placed it in a small container which I dropped into my purse so as not to forget it in case I could, by some miracle, find a dentist.

So there I sat, in front of my computer, on a Saturday afternoon, with a gaping (if I was to believe my tongue) hole in the second molar from back to front. Saturday afternoon!!!!! The borders of what was left of my tooth seemed terribly fragile and the hollowed out molar was sure to harvest at least half my dinner. What to do?

Internet, of course! What else? I typed “dentist Salies de Béarn” into Google. Four names appeared: 3 in Salies and one in neighboring Sauveterre. The three in Salies advertised opening hours only during the week, but the one in Sauveterre (a mere 10 kms away) had office hours up until 5pm Saturdays! If I hurried I would make it. There was a phone number which I dialed 3 times to no avail. I decided the dentist probably had both hands in someone’s mouth and couldn’t answer so I left a message saying I was coming and explaining as best I could the reason in French (my knowledge of dental terminology was definitely at its lowest point).

I loaded Salomé into the car, inserted the address into my GPS and… nothing. The GPS couldn’t find the street in spite of the fact that Sauveterre is much smaller than Salies. I tried again: same result. Ok, I thought to myself: I’ll drive there and somehow I’ll find the street. Upon turning onto the highway I saw a police car with a manual radar camera and pulled over to ask for directions. The officer seemed disturbed that I was cofinterrupting his possibilities of catching someone speeding, but kindly asked me what I wanted. I wondered if he knew the street in Sauveterre. He pulled out his cell phone and began to look for it and I suddenly remembered that I had downloaded Waze recently even though I had never used it. I opened my own phone, typed in the name of the street and, Eureka, there it was. Thanking the officer, I drove off, Salomé in the seat beside me.

With Waze I immediately arrived at my destination and that was the first gift of losing my filling: I now know how to use Waze. The office was closed, however, and even though I knocked and rang the bell it was obvious internet had lied. I sat back in the car running my tongue for the umpteenth time through the cavern in my tooth and wondering what I was going to do until Monday (I had tried eating a cookie before leaving home and the hole had filled up with dough which convinced me that there was no way I was going to be able to enjoy a meal until the problem was solved).

Once again I went to Google and typed in “Emergency dentist Béarn region”. A site with a phone to call popped up. I phoned. A charming gentleman answered and, upon hearing my request, asked from where in France I was calling. I told him and he said I should call the emergency number: 15, SAMU, an acronym for Urgent Medical Attention Service in French. It seemed that this tooth-thingy was going to be a learning experience through and through. I dialed 15 and a very nice man answered immediately. I explained that I needed the number of a dentist on emergency call. The gentleman said he was sorry but there was no dentist on call for emergencies at that time, but he would give me the number of a doctor on call who could tell me what to do until I could get to a dentist. He gave me the number; I wrote it down and thanked him kindly for his service. Then I called the doctor. He answered immediately and I told him about my tooth.

He was very kind and sounded honestly sorry as he told me that there was nothing he could do. Then he said that I should call 15 again the following morning and ask for a dentist doing emergency service. I thanked him, wondering if it had only been Saturday that there had been no emergency service, and hung up. There was nothing more to do but go home with the hole in my tooth and the filling in my bag. Salomé thought that was a very good idea: it was way past her supper hour by the time we got home.

oznorI drove back thinking I would probably have to wait till Monday and settling into the fact that I would have to eat with great care and spend time cleaning out the gaping hole. I noticed how thankful I was that it wasn’t hurting. I did my best to ignore the hole for the rest of the evening and made sure to empty it of all residues from dinner before going to bed. Then I had a wonderful night’s sleep.

In the morning, I first armed myself with the necessary vocabulary: molaire, obturation, trou, dente, and then –after breakfast- dialed 15 again. This time a lady answered and when I explained that I needed a dentist for an emergency (after all, it was now Sunday: the special day) she gave me a phone number to call and explained that a recording would tell me the names, the towns and the phone numbers for the dentists that were on duty that morning. She also explained that emergency dental service was only available from 9 to 1 (which was why it had not been available the previous afternoon).

There was no doubt I was learning a lot of ‘how-to’ from a simple loss of a filling; I was beginning to enjoy the adventure. I dialed the ‘magic’ number and listened to the four names rattled off. For the first one, I had trouble understanding the name of the town where he was situated; the second one was in Navarrenx (a town I go to frequently for my osteopath and that is but 30 minutes away); the third was in Biarritz (over 40 minutes away and necessitating the use of the toll highway) and the fourth was all the way to Saint Jean de Luz, over an hour`s drive. As the towns seemed to get progressively farther away from where I live, I decided to try the first one whose name I could not make out, hoping it would be the closest.

I called, the dentist answered and informed that he was in a town 10 minutes outside of Pau, so it would be farther than Navarrenx. I thanked the dentist and explained I preferred going to a town I knew. Then I called Navarrenx.

I had to dial 3 times before getting through, but when I did it turned out the dentist was a woman called Natalie Marin. I have liked everyone I have ever met called ‘Natalie’ so the signs were propitious. Dr. Marin asked if I could be there at 11:45 and I felt such joy that I very enthusiastically cried into the phone: “Of course!” Then she explained very carefully where her office was in Navarrenx and we hung up. cof

I had a dentist appointment; there was a lovely woman dentist that was going to fix my tooth… and it was Sunday!!! What more could anyone want in life? But my special day had just begun. I practically waltzed off to my morning coffee with Salomé in tow and even decided to gift myself a croissant this very special morning. From my coffee friends I learned that “obturation” was not what a filling was called (although it is French and the dentist understood perfectly when I used it, it apparently is too scientific for everyday usage), but rather plombage which having the prefix “plomb” (lead) probably points to the fact that that metal was used to fill teeth in the beginning.

At 11 o’clock on the dot, I danced my way home, climbed into my car and drove lickety-split to Navarrenx for my Sunday morning dental appointment. Although I imagined that the service was going to cost me a pretty penny, I couldn’t have cared less: anything was worth paying to have that hole in my tooth filled in.

Natalie Marin turned out to be a slightly thick bodied lady probably in her late 30’s or early 40’s who had studied dentistry in Belgium. She issued me into a beautifully clean and modernly equipped office with a lovely pale blue dental chair. I opened my bag and took out the filling. She turned it over in her fingers and said: “Ah, c’est un anlai”; it took me a few seconds to realize she was saying “inlay” with a French accent. I laughed and nodded. “And it is about 60 years old” I said.

20150518_152216As I lay back in the comfy blue chair, I noticed a kind of television screen visible only to the patient, where a video of colorful tropical fish swimming amongst bright corals was displayed. “To make your patients relax?” I queried. She nodded, smiled and then gave me the best news yet of the day: “I believe I can replace the original filling perfectly as it isn’t at all damaged.” What joy!!! My 60-year-old filling can go right back into my 75-year-old mouth! Who could ask for more?

With the first slight contact of the drill in the tooth (to clean it) we both knew my molar was very much alive. I had barely said: “Novocain please, I am a coward when it comes to dental work” when she had the needle in my gum and before I knew it everything was asleep and I felt no more pain. She cleaned the tooth, cleaned the filling and –miracle of miracles- my mouth was just as it had been before the mischievous chewing gum. I was so happy that I smiled from ear to… well it was sort of a lopsided smile; you know the kind I’m sure. I told her three times how happy I was.

My joy was such that I couldn’t wait to pay her whatever the cost. I was in for a surprise. She sat at her desk and opened her computer; after consulting something she told me the amount. I couldn’t believe it! I asked her to repeat thinking I had heard wrongly; no, I had heard it right the first time: € 28.73! If she had said €280 I would have paid it gladly, but 28 euros, dental work, on a Sunday no less!!! How in the world do these people live! My lunch was going to cost more than that. I took €30 out of my wallet and when she said she didn’t have change would I prefer to pay with a credit card, I told her it was fine. But no, she got up and went for her purse and found the 1 euro 27 centimes that was missing.oznor

It was barely 12:15 when I climbed back into my car complete (tooth filling and all in less than 30 minutes) and completely ecstatic! My tooth was fixed and I had found the most incredible dentist in the world. ‘Thank you, thank you, I’m so grateful’ I said out loud as I drove away. And then, as if the universe had not already given me enough, I came home to a beautiful bouquet of flowers I had recently picked or rather pilfered from the community vegetable gardens where they just wither and die.



Please tell me how to explain to my little schnauzer, Salomé, that we went back to standard time from daylight saving time and it is NOT 8:30 and time for her breakfast, but only 7:30 and barely a decent hour to begin thinking about getting up. At 9 a.m. she wants to go out and pee because her inner clock says 10, but I’m barely beginning to get dressed. All day today has been torture for her, and thus, for me.

At 4 p.m. on the dot, she is poking my leg with her nose while I write this piece, convinced (by her stomach) that it is supper time, which arrives –for her- at 5. I attempt to distract her with a dog biscuit, but she isn’t fooled. Swallowing the treat as fast as possible, she returns to the push-push on my leg gazing imploringly at me with her dark brown eyes. I make her wait till 4:30 and then give in thinking that tomorrow I will push it back to 5. In the spring, when we put the clocks forward, she doesn’t mind at all that her meals are an hour earlier, but getting up at what is for her such an unearthly hour of the morning is confusing to say the least.170px-George-Vernon-Hudson-RSNZ[1]

I explain to her that she can blame Hudson –not the river, but George, the man- who, according to Wikipedia, was a British-born New Zealand entomologist who proposed Daylight Saving Time or DST in a paper presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1895. Most people then were more like Salomé and preferred their hours just the way they were, thank you very much, so it wasn’t implemented until the German Empire decided to try it out and –along with Austria-Hungary- organized the first nationwide implementation on the 30th of April, 1916 in order to save coal during WWI. I doubt that Hudson heard anything of this –although he was still alive- because he probably was running around the wilds of his country collecting insects for what would eventually be the largest insect collection in New Zealand, today housed in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. He died in 1946 and no longer has to worry about remembering to set his clocks either back or forward depending on the time of year.

20151030_170045Wiki goes on to state that DST clock shifts can complicate “timekeeping and disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment and sleep patterns…” and that its usefulness in saving electricity and heating fuels is questionable. It mentions nothing about dogs or other household pets that might think they are being tortured for no justifiable reason.

Hudson was seconded in his idea by Robert Pearce, a Liberal Member of the British Parliament who introduced the first Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons in 1908. After some consideration it was discarded and even though the following years saw several other bills they all also failed. So it was left to the Germans during the war to begin what today is Salomé’s torture, with Britain, most of its allies and many European neutrals following suit. Russia and a few other countries waited until the following year, and the United States adopted DST in 1918. However, most countries (except Canada, the UK, France and Ireland) dropped it after the war and brought it back during WW II. Then it became widely adopted, particularly in Europe and North America in the 1970s as a result of the energy crisis.

However, there is no general agreement on the benefits or detriments of DST. Personally, at my age, I have no problem with putting the clock forward, putting it back or leaving it alone other than remembering to do so. Since hearing the Spring Forward/Fall Back20160813_131049 reminder, I no longer have trouble knowing whether we are adding or subtracting an hour from our day. However, if I look at the detrimental effects on health that Wikipedia delights in enumerating, I might side with Salomé in thinking that we humans should leave well enough alone.

Although some benefits due to greater exposure to sunlight seem to be favored by the hour shift, the negative effects include an increased risk of heart attack (10%), sleep disruption and severe effects on seasonal adaptation of the circadian rhythm which can last for weeks. It also has a disruptive effect on sleep for a lot of people. I would have no idea if this is having an effect on me as the hour change comes shortly after my trip home from Mexico from which I am still experiencing a certain amount of jet-lag that is affecting my sleep anyway. Salomé sleeps off and on all day long so it would be difficult to determine if there is any sleep deprivation in her case.

It is now 6:15 in the evening and there is a little black nose pushing against my thigh to remind me that she believes it is time for my dinner (around 7- 7:15)… which, of course, means that she gets titbits and to lick some of the cooking dishes when there are yummy leftovers. Oh dear… I think Salomé has DST-lag which will probably last for a few days and maybe clear up with my jet-lag.imagesW5OARGBR