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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” Nan-in said , “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show… Read More

“WE ARE YOUR FRIENDLY POLICEMEN”, read the English sign at my local police station in the Philippines. Blood was dripping from my face onto my yellow sweater. Damn, I thought. These stains will never come out. “Ma’am, what happened to you?” asked a surprised-looking, but friendly policeman, though I was quite sure this man had shouted a warning at me through a megaphone once, something about jay-walking. “I want to blotter my neighbor…. Read More

I visited my grandfather’s grave today. Born 1888 died 1977. Memory of him playing his fiddle in an old Quebec farmhouse in summer, dancing a clownish jig, my cousins and I clapping and laughing, bellies stuffed with our grandmother’s strawberry shortcake. Happiness. A black dog named Teddy asleep on the porch — my first animal love. So many people and pets gone now, alive only in memories and photographs. My family’s roots… Read More

I am puzzled by Canada. It’s where I was born and raised but I no longer understand it. This nation of peace and abundance and stunning natural beauty has somehow turned into a depressing place. I look outside and see lakes and mountains and summer flowers, but inside the TV continuously blares out the latest wars and acts of terror and murders and sex crimes and missing children and diseases that we… Read More

I was twenty years-old and excited at the prospect of studying French for an entire summer in the south of France. Until I met my teacher. “Mademoiselle La Blonde”, said she, “you speak French like a vulgarian”. “Repeat after me”, she ordered. “Mardi. No, not like that! Mardi! Encore – Mardi!” Over and over my Quebec accent infuriated her. Finally, I could stand it no longer: “Tuesday”, I shouted. My classmates laughed…. Read More

My camera and I have been in Rome for two days now and I’m still wondering why. This is not my normal sort of vacation or photography destination — usually I’m drawn to remote parts of the world like Africa or New Zealand or Antarctica. There’s nothing I dislike more than large crowds or huge swarms of buzzing tourists. But Rome has been calling me for more than two years. I know that sounds strange,… Read More

No trespassing! Keep out! Beware of Dog! We westerners do love our walls. I’m as guilty as anyone else. I wish I were more laid back about privacy, but the desire to define my territory is just too strong. “Don’t touch that, it’s MINE”. “Stay on YOUR side of the fence”. That’s me. Even my dogs seem to be more territorial than their Filipino counterparts. When we go to the beach, they… Read More

Many years ago I received a text message from an unknown number: “You are a white beach” it said. I hadn’t been long in the Philippines, so it took me hours to figure out that someone was accusing me of being a white bitch. “Why are you angry at me?” I wrote back. “Sorry Ma’am it was a miss-send.” Being a western woman who lives in Asia is sometimes tricky. World War… Read More

In the thirteen years I’ve lived in the Philippines many (mostly retired male pensioners) expats have come and gone. People leave for various reasons. Some go for medical reasons, others because they have children who need a better education than this country can provide. Quite a few depart permanently and are laid to rest in our local cemetery. But many leave for a most unfortunate reason: they never bothered to learn the… Read More

I’m a sucker for the underdog — literally. I’ve never been able to resist a pair of soulful brown eyes. And so I take in whatever finds its way to my front door: stray dogs, abandoned kittens, even a sulfur-crested cockatoo, aptly named Rocky. The Philippines is an animal lover’s nightmare — a national epidemic of homeless cats and dogs giving birth in an endless cycle. Tags and licenses – are you… Read More

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