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“You’re a racist”, an anonymous blogger recently wrote to me. “You should go back home”, the blogger said. Am I a racist, I wondered? And if I went back home, where would that be? I haven’t lived in Canada for twenty-four years. When I created this blog two months ago, I had no expectation of it becoming anything more than a link for that rare person who might possibly read my story,… Read More

TO: INDIA HARRIS, RESPONDENT. YOU ARE HEREBY REQUIRED TO APPEAR BEFORE ME ON THE 13TH DAY OF AUGUST, 2013 AT 3:00 IN THE AFTERNOON FOR THE HEARING OF THIS COMPLAINT. SIGNED BY THE OFFICE OF THE BARANGAY CAPTAIN – REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PROVINCE OF ——–, MUNICIPALITY OF ———. The complainant is my former housemaid. “Oh my God”, I shout after reading the summons that was delivered to our house while I… Read More

To be honest, I’ve put off writing this post. I have found laundry to do, books to read, closets to reorganize — anything to delay revisiting the day I returned home after Typhoon Glenda. But you, dear readers, have very politely read the first two installments of this story, and you deserve to know how it ended. When I walked into my house on the morning of July 17th, I was looking… Read More

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1:56 a.m. I wake up to a hot and stuffy room and the realization that I should have paid much more attention to this storm. The power’s off, so no more air-conditioning. My room is like a tomb, with no ventilation. According to the forecast, the worst is yet to come… 2:05 a.m. Wow, big wind! Am not sure what’s going on outside, but things are really banging… Read More

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 6:15 a.m. I need to get home before the typhoon hits. I’m in a taxi, speeding in a southbound lane on the South Luzon Expressway, en route from Manila Airport to the ferry terminal in Batangas City. I’ve told my driver that we need to get there faster than the usual 90 minute ride so I can catch a ferry to the island of Mindoro, my home of… Read More

The yellow African lovebird in my photo is now buried under a tree in our garden, killed last week by a thief who crept onto our patio at night, intent on pulling my birds from their cages while they slept. Exotic birds fetch a high price in the Philippines. But really, what kind of person creeps through the shadows and steals birds from his neighbors?? I know who the thief was, ridiculous… Read More

I’m discouraged. It seems that almost everyone’s a conservationist these days — until a coyote moves into our backyard; or we need to pour concrete over Asian rice paddies to build subdivisions for the expanding middle class; or when Walmart advertises a sale on cheap wooden picnic tables that no one realizes were made from old growth trees in Siberia. But who can blame anyone for wanting to live a happy life in a… Read More

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 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

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