Saturday, December 18, 2010


Waking up after a night of a bit too much of everything! I am in a fog and feel like I am wasting a day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dailrag - Shopping! (from Julie)

When it reaches the point that even the mannequins have surrendered to the holiday shopping chaos, one knows it has gone on long enough!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DAILRAG-animal hair

we have a dog, a cat, a rabbit, some fish and I'm sure a gazillion cockroaches and mice (thank god I hardly ever see those critters). But I do see, all over the house, everywhere, cat and dog hair. I sit in it. I wear it. And I sometimes eat it, not intentionally. But it's driving us all mad. We have several of those rolly lint removing thing a ma bobs but they take the hair off, sort of, and then five minutes later more hair. The hair is everywhere, and the more I vacuum, the more it appears. It's like spontaneous generation of hair! My husband even went so far as to say, "let's get rid of the dog". That was like saying, "let's get rid of our first born child". It cut me to the core. But I'll tell you when you're eating a sandwich, and you pick up a napkin and wipe your mouth and it fills up with dog hair there's a moment when I say, maybe we SHOULD get rid of the dog.... and the cat...and the rabbit. There's gotta be a better way. Hair today hair tomorrow.


We went to the oncologist yesterday. He said "no treatment until after the holidays". He wants to make sure J's blood infections are completely cleared. Apparently whatever it was they extracted from J's pancreas was a complete anomaly. Most docs have rarely to never seen one like it, which makes prescribing treatment difficult, at best. So here we are, in the dark, again, and the discomfort level remains at orange. Not only that but Jordi's tumor markers are "elevated". And I don't know WTF a tumor marker is! So now I will have to go and Google it. The good news is Jordi's appetite has come back, full force, he's even drinking Ensure, which he disliked, at first. As the wise blogger guru says, "one day at a time".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dailure-lunch with friends

Yesterday, one of the docents, from the art museum, had a lunch, for her good friends. It was so nice! The house was decorated, all holidayish, and there was good food; dips, cheeses, a walnut-blue cheese salad, and a quiche, made from puff-pastry, cheese, rosemary and ham. We drank champagne and talked into the wee hours of the afternoon. What a great escape!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Cold air! In Florida, where alligators rule and mosquitos bite, it's rare to have blasts of cold air, for days on end. This morning it is 33 degrees ( with wind chill factor) . Not a big deal if you are wearing a down jacket, gloves and a hat. Not so sure Cleo appreciates it tho. This AM when I took her out to pee her first swipe at it left her a bit stunned. She squatted, lifted herself up, quickly and looked at me as if to say, ' who turned off the heat'. Then she searched around hoping to find warmer blades of grass. What next snow??? That would be heavenly.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Drailrag: no more almond butter

Life in the a.m. just isn't the same without my slice of wheat bread with almond butter and honey. Small things can be big things, can't they?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I do love the game of tennis. Played two sets today and was totally exhausted but I love that kind of exhaustion. I played with a friend, who always beats me. But the day was one of the most spectacular I've seen; 70 degrees, no humidity and a crystal, clear, blue sky. Can't get much better for a day!

Dailure: Friday night with friends

End of the week. The usual last minute "come on over!" and I do. I bring Ruby Red Grapefruit and craisin salad, and add my steamed asparagus to the pasta with cheesy cream sauce. Glass of wine. Talk about the politics of the week.

Perfect. Warm. Just right.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Getting up rally early, 4:45, on a very chilly morning, to walk, only to be stood up. Argh, the frustration! This is not the first time she has done this to me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dailure and Dailrag

The fact that Jordi is home from the hospital makes me very happy. He got home last night and he's a lot better; his color is good, he's gained 11 pounds and he has his mind back. He can read and focus, watch television and write. It's all very exciting for him after almost 8 weeks of thinking he'd totally lost his mind. Nothing would stick, he was agitated and in distress. I would imagine that after 55 years of having control over things and suddenly not, would be very very distressing. But the cloud has lifted (thank you no more medications).

The dailrag is the docs still don't know why he's getting infections. They've put their heads together, scratched them and come up with bubkas. So he's home, with a port and will receive daily doses of anti-biotics, which will hopefully kill the little fuckers FOREVER!

The day is gorgeous, 72 degrees, with sunshine and no humidity. I have free tickets to the Art Basel satellite shows and we've already gone, to PULSE, which was fun, edgy, interesting, innovative and more down to earth than the convention center. That place is a zoo. It's filled with art that is supposedly "cutting edge". Nine times out of ten it bores me to death. At least the younger artists, hungry ones, are doing more interesting things. That's my opinion. So today we'll check out SCOPE.

Fun fun fun.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Why do leftovers from Thanksgiving taste so good days afterwards; is it the time, for a blending of flavors, is it the crustiness of the stuffing, maybe it's the smells. When reheated the good thoughts came wafting back, into my head and I have that Thankgivingy feeling all over again. It is my favorite holiday because there are no expectations, no gifts, no fighting, just food, family and friends. So the smells bring it all back and the flavors, they just solidify the feelings. Wonderful.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dailure: everyone gone

As lovely as it was to everyone home in the nest, it's nice to be all quiet again and back in the routine of what life is right now.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Today it being Black Friday sent the entire family running, straight for the beach. Oh what gifts we had: empty, beautiful sandy beach, where we walked and dipped, and enjoyed ourselves. It was so nice that next year we're planning the same on Black Friday. Oh and the leftovers were extraordinary.


Watching Jordi play tennis yesterday, Thursday,November 25,2010. It has been six weeks since his surgery. Not bad for a guy who's missing several inner organs!

I actually have two dailures. Elisabeth is home from school and I love having her back in the family fold. She is fun and funny and a great addition to our dinner table.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

weeklure-Thanksgiving prep

I love the days before Thanksgiving; the planning of the meal, the beginnings of sweet smells, in the kitchen, the coming home of children, from college, the excitement, that fills the house. The entire week I tried to cook one dish, every day, and I loved the pace, slow and meticulous. So today is the big day and I've got almost all of it prepared. And yesterday Elisabet came home and we sat down to the dinner table, together, as one family and it was all delicious.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dailure: Daughter home

What a delight to have my little chick back in the nest ... if only for a few days!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dailrag -- head congestion

It hangs in there. It bugs ya. It doesn't go away even with hot tea or a shower/bath. Kind of an unwanted tenant these days. Allergies? Maybe.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dailure-Good Healthcare

Finding a good doctor has made me feel better than I have in MONTHS. And hearing the words: "You will get through this" and "The worst is behind you" from that same doctor restored my faith, a little bit, in medicine. We spent 2 hours with the doctor yesterday. Hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????? Did everyone hear that two hours with the same doctor? He asked questions, gave us information, tried to piece together Jordi's history, etc... Anyway, we both left the office feeling relieved that his body was in the hands of a good doctor.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dailure: chocolate chips in pumpkin muffins

Add 'em to pumpkin bread (or muffins) and suddenly they're festive. They just add that little bit o' melty joy to life. Gotta love them.

Dailure-New Clothes

There's something about putting on brand spanking new clothes that lifts one's spirits. A friend of mine, who has impeccable taste, moved to Colorado. Before she left she told me to "go through my closet and take what you want". Oh my this woman has impeccable taste so it was like going to Loehmann's, only better, because we didn't have to pay! Sophie came with me because her daughter, who also has impeccable taste, left a lot of clothing behind. It was so much fun I'm tempted to open a shop and call it, "My Neighbor's Closet". And her closet, is the size of my bedroom, so it was like being at Loehmanns.

I've also just bought several new outfits for my hubby because he lost a bit of weight when he had surgery. So it's fun to see him kind of light up, when he puts on a brand new shirt and pants.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Freedom oh freedom -- working for myself meant at 9 a.m. when I was tired, I could have a nap ... and with my pup right there by my side.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dailure- Barca!

Watching the Barcelona soccer game with friends. More importantly Jordi stayed seated the entire time. This is huge progress.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dailure-Walk in Dog Park

It's one of those days when the sun is shining, 65 degrees, and there's a crispness to the air. Just made me want to walk to the dog park, with the dog and throw a stick for an hour. Nobody in the park and a stillness and solitude that I actually enjoyed. The dog enjoyed it too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Peanut butter milkshake to celebrate the offing of Daniel's braces

Today was a good day; Daniel got his braces off, we celebrated, with peanut butter and chocolate shakes and Jordi is feeling better. I must say sometimes a good milk shake makes everything a-okay.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dailure-Fine Art of Healthcare

We had our third and final (for this year) Fine Art of Healthcare workshop and I must say that the students who attended all three seemed to really feel the experience was valuable. The docents and I agreed that there was a noticeable difference between the first and third workshop; the students were much more engaged, they had processed the three VTS questions, which made a big difference in their facilitation skills and thus made a difference in how the discussion went. The comments were longer, more detailed and students seemed to really listen to one another and even build upon each others ideas. I'd say that is huge considering they'd only participated a maximum of three sessions. Just think what they could do in 8-10 sessions!


I'm telling you hospitals are enough to bring anyone down! My son, who visited his father, yesterday, in the hospital said, "I could never be a doctor because hospitals smell so bad". I had to explain that doctors/nurses probably get "used to it", although I'm not sure how. It's too bad because one would think that being sick is a downer, in and of itself, but to be in a smelly, moldy, dilapidated hospital....the worst.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dailrag-Jordi's exhaustion

So hard to see someone you love going through such discomfort and the worst, may be, the exhaustion! He has no energy to do anything: read (he loves to read), watch tv, work on the computer even LISTENING TO MUSIC tires him. I know this recovery will take time and I'm trying to help him to help himself, be patient, but it's not always possible. It's frustrating.


It's been a long time but today I went swimming and it felt great. Just being underwater, breathing, listening to my breath, and focusing on the feel of the water on my skin and the solitude made me feel good. I've also been doing a little yoga/meditation underwater, very therapeutic.


Wow, I got seven (7) hours of uninterrupted sleep last night! I feel like a different woman. Now I'm ready to face the world and the Lowe Art Museum docent guild and our last Fine Art of Health Care workshop for 2010.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


My dailrag for the day was calling home, Jordi, and he not picking up the phone. After several attempts at both cell and home phones I rushed home, from work, only to find him lounging in the sack. Jeeze, pick up da phone would ya?!


For breakfast I had a bagel with Jamon Serrano (kind of like Prociutto) and cheddar cheese. So bad but sooooooooo good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today's delight: being able to share a bad dream (I think I lost all memory) on my daily walk in the park. Ah.

Today's drag: having that kind of dream -- every detail: thinking I should call the neurologist but realizing i was dialing the eye doctor -- stressful!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dailure-Raisin Bran and Chobani Greek Yogurt

Raisin Bran by itself is a bit like eating cardboard but put with Chobani Greek Yogurt and add a banana and YUM!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Actually I have two. I took Jordi to the ocean, today, for the first time in weeks he was out of the hospital and house and depressing surroundings. He loved it. Sat himself down, right in front of the water, and a scantily clad blonde and just enjoyed the view. It was great seeing him a bit happier.

The second thing that gave me a bit of pleasure was making a walking stick for our neighbor, Shavone. He's going to dress as an old man, for Halloween, and didn't have a cane or walking stick. So I found a great stick, in the dog park, and fiddled with it, painted and stuck skulls and bones and 'eyes of newt' on it. Kind of great way to distract myself.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The push to find a daily delight

It's been months since I've been on this blog. But I figure there's no time like now to begin my push to find a daily delight, daily and to post it. Every now and then I may have to insert a daily drag but will try to keep them to a minimum.

Here's an HUGGGGGGEEEEE daily delight when I talk to my friends, almost every day I speak to a good friend or family member and it makes me so happy. Sometimes it doesn't seem like I'm happy because I'm weepy but that means that I feel comfortable enough with my them to do that, weep and when I weep (which may also be a delight) it's kind of cathartic. So that's it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dailure-Wasabi Edamame

I've started snacking on Wasabi Edamame. With a cold lemonade it's very gratifying. It 'makes' my afternoon!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Fine Art of Healthcare workshop #1

We now have 44 students signed up for the first Fine Art of Healthcare workshop, held at the Lowe Art Museum, next Thursday, September 2nd. The students are a 'mix'; coming from the medical, nursing, physical therapy and psychology schools and the idea is to create a forum, at the museum, in which they can step back, slow down, look at and discuss art works AND get to know other students in different areas of healthcare.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

E-Veritas (University of Miami's newspaper) Front Page

UM Healthcare Students Learn Visual Thinking Strategies at the Lowe Art Museum

August 12, 2010 — Coral Gables — This fall, the University of Miami (UM) Lowe Art Museum will present a series of three workshops for students majoring in graduate programs in healthcare. Through the ‘Fine Art of Healthcare’ workshop, participants will learn Visual Thinking Strategies and have the opportunity to collaboratively look at works of art in detail to hone their observation, listening, and communication skills. Dates are September 2, October 7 and November 4 at 4 pm at the Lowe.

The workshops are based on the success of last year’s program. Under the tutelage of UM professor Dr. Sherrill Hayes, doctoral students from UM’s Department of Physical Therapy spent an afternoon at the Lowe Art Museum in 2009. For three hours they were given an overview of the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) program, a research-based, student-centered curriculum primarily used in K-8 education to teach a variety of skills. Throughout the country, medical schools like Harvard, the University of Minneapolis, and the University of Southern California have begun to adapt VTS for use in medical therapy programs. But for the first time, at the Lowe, physical therapy students tested the VTS methodology to improve their observational and diagnostic skills by looking at art with a scrupulous eye through group discussions and peer learning.

“Working in small groups, the UM students closely examined artwork on display at the Lowe, discussed details they observed, and shared their interpretations. By using a VTS approach to this process, the importance of evidentiary reasoning becomes paramount,” said Dr. Hayes. “Students not only express convergent and divergent opinions and build upon each other’s ideas in the evaluation and understanding of works of art, but they must also use the details they observe to support the validity of their arguments.”

Through their participation in this workshop at the Lowe, both students and faculty left with a better sense of the evaluative process. Since then, the Lowe has also hosted a number of workshops, including the medical, nursing, and psychology schools.

To register for a fall workshop or for more information, contact Hope Torrents, School Programs Coordinator, Lowe Art Museum, 305-284-8049 or .

The Lowe Art Museum is located at the University of Miami at 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables.

# # #

The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of our diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.


Fine Art of Healthcare workshops
The Lowe Art Museum presents a series of three workshops for students majoring in graduate programs in healthcare. Participants will learn Visual Thinking Strategies, a method shown to improve important skills needed in all healthcare professions. Students will have the opportunity to collaboratively look at works of art in detail to hone their observation, listening, and communication skills. To register for a fall workshop or for more information, contact Hope Torrents, School Programs Coordinator, Lowe Art Museum, 305-284-8049 or .

Following the workshop(s) students will receive FREE entry (valued at $10 per person) to the LoweDown.
* Limit of 10 students per program.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

4:00 pm to 7:00 pm Workshop

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm LoweDown
Enjoy 5,000 years of World Art in one night of culture and
leisure with music, art, mingling, tours, hors d’oeuvres, and refreshments.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

4:00 pm to 7:00 pm Workshop

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm LoweDown
Enjoy 5,000 years of World Art in one night of culture and
leisure with music, art, mingling, tours, hors d’oeuvres, and refreshments.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

4:00 pm to 7:00 pm Workshop

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm LoweDown
Enjoy 5,000 years of World Art in one night of culture and
leisure with music, art, mingling, tours, hors d’oeuvres, and refreshments.

Share it with others

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Friends and family during difficult times are what have sustained me. Don't know if I'd be institutionalized if it weren't for all of them but do know that they were there to pick me up off of the ground and 'carry' me.

Dailure- HEALTH


Friday, July 23, 2010

Dailure-Doing for Others

Yesterday, I had a doctor's apointment, and a meeting scheduled right after. I was very impatient and felt that I should probably re-schedule (rather than wait for an hour and a half). When I told the nurse, she said, "we will try and get you out for your meeting and it's better to wait because the insurance you have may not cover after August 1st". So, by the time I made it into the doctor's office I was more than tense, I was tense and upset. I really like my doctor, she's got great bedside manner, and the thought of not being able to go to her.... Needless to say by the time she made it into the office I was on edge (literally on the edge of the table ready to make tracks out of her office). But she started talking to me, asking me what was going on and we began a rather lengthy discussion, mostly about her kids. She told me that she was "overwhelmed by her children". Both are in college and she felt that they "took advantage of her". I basically asked her questions and told her how I might handle the situation. She said, "you don't know how happy I am that you came in today. You were meant to be here." She hugged me and thanked me (about 6 times). When I went out, to the front desk, to make my co-payment, the nurse said, "she is not charging you, apparently you counselled her and she's grateful". I wasn't expecting that and it made me feel 'good' that I had helped, in a small way.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Big FUCKING Dailure

A negative biopsy is one of the biggest and best dailures that I can think of! What a horrible couple of weeks it's been. It aint over but it sure feels a bit better than yesterday, when it was all I could do not to jump out of my skin. The FIFA world cup finals was a good distraction but the entire affair made me so nervous (not a lot of help consider my already fragile state). I managed not to hyperventilate (it was my birthday, yesterday, and there were people 'watching', no, they weren't watching me, they were watching the game at our house). It would have been most undignified if I had started writhing around on the floor, while everyone was watching as Spain played Holland. NOT ONE GOAL until the last five minutes in the second 15 minutes of overtime. Talk about a nail-biter. I thought the game was going to go into penalty kicks. That would have been a royal bummer. It all worked out and Spain scored the one and only winning goal. So I waited ALL day today for a doctor to get back to me with the results. And it wasn't until 5:45 PM that he called and left a message on our answering machine, "the results from the tests look good" was all he said. But it was enough to help me feel that someone had loosened the noose around my mid-section.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blueberry Mush Mush and Fourth of July

We had a fourth of July celebration, with our neighbors and a few other friends and the food was out of this world. We made marinated flank steaks and sausages, on the grill, fruit and potato salads, home-made brownies (our neighbor, Denise, makes the best fudge brownies) and guacamole. I remembered that it was always a tradition, in our family, to make blueberry mush mush on the 4th. So I asked my oldest childhood friend (practically cousin) Tracy Teweles, for the recipe. So I'm sharing: 1 pint blueberries
1 cup butter, 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar. Mix butter, flower and brown sugar together and slice it up with two knives. Cover the top of the blueberries with the mixture and put into 375 degree oven, for 45 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

When Insults Had Class-Daily Delight

When Insults Had Class
“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
–Winston Churchill
“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
–Clarence Darrow
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
–William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"
—Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”
–Groucho Marx
“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
–Mark Twain
“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
–Oscar Wilde
“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... if you have one.”
–George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
“Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.”
–Winston Churchill’s response to George Bernard Shaw
“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.”
–Stephen Bishop
“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”
–John Bright
“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”
–Irvin S. Cobb
“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”
–Samuel Johnson
“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.”
–Paul Keating
“He had delusions of adequacy.”
–Walter Kerr
“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”
–Mark Twain
“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”
–Mae West
“Winston, if you were my husband, I would poison your coffee!”
–Lady Astor to Winston Churchill at a dinner party
“Madam, if I were your husband, I would drink it!”
–Winston Churchill’s response to Lady Astor
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
—Moses Hadas
"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure."
—Jack E. Leonard
"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt."
—Robert Redford
"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."
—Thomas Brackett Reed
"He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them."
—James Reston (about Richard Nixon)
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."
—Charles, Count Talleyrand
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
—Forrest Tucker
"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any one I know."
—Abraham Lincoln
"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts — for support rather than illumination."
—Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
—Billy Wilder
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”
–Oscar Wilde
"You, Mr. Wilkes, will die either of the pox or on the gallows."
–The Earl of Sandwich
"That depends, my lord, whether I embrace your mistress or your principles."
–John Wilkes's response to The Earl of Sandwich
"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."
—Winston Churchill

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Sometimes the 'small' things in a doctor-patient relationship make a big difference. Jordi has been seeing a GI, Dr. Sable, for a few months now. After yet another test I called the doctor, even though he wasn't the doctor that performed the surgery, and he called me back. I didn't call him once, I called him three or four times, and each time he called me back. And the time of the call-back was within an hour. Now that's a doctor I can trust! Thank you Dr. Sable.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Ugh, spent the good part of last night at Baptist Hospital with Jordi. Poor guy had an 'attack'. Turns out he has TWO kidney stones and an infection. I finally left around 1:00 AM, when they were wheeling him in for another test. He called at 5:00 AM and I picked him up and drove him home. He said the emergency room was a "nightmare". There was an old man, who had been taken into the hospital by his grandson. They were having at it. The grandson kept telling his grandfather to "drink the water" or he'd be there for "a month". The grandfather kept saying, "f--k you" other lovely expletives thrown at him. When he ran out of expletives he threw his full glass of water. Grandson kept his cool. Jordi told me later that when the father arrived (or son of grandpa) more shouting ensued. In the next 'room' over (not really rooms because the only separation are curtains) there was a "party". An entire family decided to escort a woman to the emergency room and never stopped laughing and talking. So poor Jordi couldn't even sleep. He could have for the amount of pain killers they pumped into him. We'd all really like to get to the bottom of this. What is causing these kidney stones and attacks of his pancreas? Tomorrow he has an endoscopy procedure. Hopefully sticking a camera down inside will give us some answers?!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dailrag - Cleaning

I hate cleaning. I have tried being meditative as I clean, being "in the moment", turning it into a positive experience, but it doesn't work. I'd rather be doing anything, ANYTHING, but cleaning. And when it's done, one has just a short moment of satisfaction and then it all starts over again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Morakami Museum

Went with some friends to visit the Morakami Museum and gardens in Boca Raton today. What gorgeous gardens; filled with native plants, Bonsai, Coy ponds and Zen gardens. It was wonderful, although a bit hot and humid (in the 90's) so the walk was a bit schfitzy. We ate in the cafe, which according to a friend is the "third best museum cafe in the country". The museum is filled with oddities, like models of plastoid animals and creatures that were used in animated cartoons, in Japan. The creatures were varied: one eyed green, pink and purple people eaters and there were several models of the Godzilla. Great day and we ended at the Sandy Beach bar, in Miami Beach, where we watched Ghana defeat the USA, in the World Cup. Sad day for the US but I'm happy for Ghana.

Monday, June 21, 2010

'Eye Candy'

World Cup 2010. Apart from the gamesmanship and talent of the players watching the world cup has been pleasurable, because the men are so damn handsome! I mean it's a veritable 'candy store' and I'm the kid that can't make up her mind which piece to 'pick'??!! Ronaldo is adorable but so is Kaka and so are many of the African teams players.

I do get quite excited and don't have a favorite team (although being married to a Spaniard I know where my allegiance should be). I find myself always rooting for the underdog, the 'dark horse' and the little guy. I even found myself shouting for the North Korean team, this morning, when they played Portugal (Ronaldo pant pant). I am really enjoying the fact that it's being televised, daily and because it's a virtual inferno outside, to be able to sit inside, with a cold beer (sometimes) and shout at the 'boob tube' is a lot of fun! And it doesn't cost a dime.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Christopher Hitchins

Going to a house of worship to see Christopher Hitchens is a bit like going to a house of ill repute to see a bishop. So naturally I drove to Temple Judea in Coral Gables last night to catch the literary journalist.

And I saw something I'd never seen before: Hitchens smile. It was before he took the podium, while standing next to Dave Barry - who introduced him and then led him in conversation (noting, at one point, that both their mothers committed suicide).

Hitchens was his usual curmudgeonly self, complaining about horoscopes in the Washington Post("astrology in a journal of record") and suggesting that Ayn Rand's novels "are more difficult to read than they were to write." He answered the first question about his (anti) religious views - the questioner surprisingly compared him to Malcolm Muggeridge - but when more came he brushed them aside with a phrase that became a mantra: "Wrong book."

Even talking about himself (he was plugging his new memoir) he gave the impression of not just a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but the rare individual with the mental capacity to accurately calculate that weight. At the same time, he was, occasionally, almost playful, and he ended the evening in a way that I imagine few evenings at the temple have ever ended: with a recitation of limericks.


I get a kick out of you! Sophie makes me laugh! She has an extremely hard time making up her mind about shoes, she picks the onions out of her fried rice and she ONLY eats the chocolate chips in the vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips. She likes life and is willing to try new things. She's taking a photography class and had no idea who would be in the class with her yet has made one new friend in two days. She's conscientious and a hell of a tennis player.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Recipe for cold sweet pepper and asparagus soup

I made this up bc it's so so hot in Miami and there's nothing like a chilled soup to 'ease' some of that heat. So here's the recipe:

2 red sweet peppers (or you can use the roasted ones from a jar)
2 cups cooked (slightly asparagus)
3 potatoes peeled and cooked
3 tbs. butter
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup white onions (or two leeks)
s & p
2 cups buttermilk

Saute onions in the butter (don't burn them) add peppers, asparagus and potatoes and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring so as not to burn vegetables. Add two cups of chicken stock and let simmer for 10 minutes. Take the mixture and put into a Cuisinart, blender or use a hand-held mixer. Puree until all lumps are out. Add buttermilk and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for six hours. May be served with croutons.

Serves 6

Friday, June 11, 2010


Editor's note: Imagine being a father and finding out you were going to die. Who would be there for your kids? Hear from one man who thought only of his daughters when he was faced with the news. Watch "Dad's for my Daughters," a special Dr. Sanjay Gupta documentary to air June 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

(CNN) -- When Sanjay Gupta came to our home in Brooklyn, New York, recently to begin work on a documentary about "The Council of Dads," I was instantly struck that we had a number of things in common. We've both spent a lot of time on the road, including Iraq. We both have strong connections to Georgia. I was raised in Savannah; he lives in Atlanta.

But most of all, we're both dads. Between us we had five daughters under 5.

Inevitably our conversations turned to what wisdom we'd like our girls to know. In 2008, I reached out to six friends and asked them to form a "Council of Dads" to be present in the lives of my twin daughters. I then asked each friend for one piece of advice he would convey to my girls.

Their answers surprised and moved me. They made me a better father.

And they inspired me to write "The Council of Dads," which contains life lessons from these dads, my own dad, and various father figures in my life.

Here, with a little help from these men, are Ten Lessons for My Daughters.

1. Be a traveler, not a tourist

A tourist takes the easy road. A traveler seeks out the challenging path. A tourist stays on the bus. A traveler jumps in the mud.

2. Always pack your flip-flops

In college, a friend and I backpacked across Asia and got kicked out of many locations because he refused to wear anything but tank tops and flip-flops. Twenty years later he still wears flip-flops! It became his motto. Whatever you do, be true to yourself. Wherever you go, always pack your flip-flops.

3. Don't see the wall, dream big

When you encounter a wall, find a way to get over it, around it, or under it. Whatever you do, don't succumb to it. Don't give into the wall.

4. Tend your tadpoles

When I was a boy I caught tadpoles with a friend. Like those tadpoles, we grew legs and hopped off into the world. I had little in common with that friend. Later, when I needed help, my friend was suddenly back. Tend your tadpoles. You never know when you might need a pal.

5. Live the questions

Have patience with the unknown. No matter where you find yourself, if you ask questions, you'll find your way. Don't only seek the answers. Try to love the questions.

6. Harvest miracles

Life is full of everyday miracles. Sometimes it just takes a bad situation to help appreciate them. Even when it's cloudy, keep looking for the rainbow.

7. Use your words

When you were toddlers, we begged you, "Use your words." Yet sometimes we forgot to take our own advice. Even when you're older, don't hide behind silence. When you face a problem, talk it through.

8. Always learn to juggle on the side of the hill

When I was 12, I learned to juggle on the side of a gravel hill with oranges. Every time I dropped an orange it would hit the ground, pulpify, and role to the bottom of the incline. It was a fool's errand. But it worked! If you're going to try something, try it. Don't half commit.

9. Take a walk with a turtle

In Paris, France, years ago, a new type of pedestrian appeared. He was called a flaneur, one who strolled the arcades. Flaneurs liked to take turtles for walks and let the reptile set the pace. I love this ode to slow-moving. Don't be in a hurry. Behold the world in pause.

10. Hug the monster

Pilots learn that when they face a life-defining challenge, they should not run from their fear. They should embrace it. Hug the monster. Wrestle your fear into submission. Redirect it into a source of resilience and purpose.

Take trips, girls. Take chances. Take off.

This piece is adapted from "The Council of Dads," by New York Times best-selling author Bruce Feiler. For more information, or to contact Bruce, please visit

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Why why why is it so difficult to find a really good pizza in Miami?! Yesterday, Sophie had a 'few' friends come to the house (actually five guys) and we had no food. So I thought I'd order a pizza. It was a huge disappointment. We normally don't have pizza for dinner (except maybe on a weekend) and I now know why. The anticipation of a thin-crusted, cheese-laden, fresh tomato sauce splattered, delectable pie is usually met with sadness. I understand that to consistently put out something 'outstanding' might be a challenge but you'd think someone, somewhere, might have met that challenge in a city as large as Miami? But no, I've tried every possible pizza parlor: Papa John's (bad), Dominos (worse), Miami's Best (not great), Carzolis (okay but the crust is too thick) and even Sir Pizza ($40 bucks for two pizzas and definitely not worth the cost). So I'm at a loss.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The Torrents family has been smitten! We are all in 'love' with Cleo. She has provided enormous joy for our family, like having another child, and we have become focused on her growth. Yesterday we went to the dog park and made some new friends. It's like discovering a new 'place' in Miami.


Feeling vastly relieved that Jordi is 'okay'. He needs more tests but the doctor seemed to think that with some enzymes and watching his "diet" he can live a long and healthy life....phew!!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

High Museum

A VTS training in Atlanta took me and twelve teachers (APS) to the High Museum for two of the four days. It's a beautiful building; a lot of windows, a lot of light and a combination of objects of design and artworks. Although there aren't a lot of artworks to choose from we managed to find paintings, sculpture and photographs, that spanned different time periods and different cultures.
What I liked most about the training was the bonding that went on among the teachers. There were several art teachers, elementary, middle and high school as well as a science/math teacher and a Spanish teacher. And in spite of the differences in areas of specialties none had problems finding meaning in the works. And I think there were a few that are hell-bent on getting VTS into their schools.

I do enjoy doing the trainings but it really is exhausting. It requires full concentration for about six hours straight. And it was the first time I had ever done a four day training.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Usher featuring - OMG

Watching my daughters dance

So yesterday we were hanging by the pool; Elisabet, Sophie, Jordi and moi, and Elisabet put on some music. Both Sophie and Elisabet started dancing. I loved watching them move! There is something about watching young (and quite attractive) folks move to music that I so enjoy. Maybe it was the day; sunny, not a cloud in sight, hot and being around a cool pool, which made the moment poignant. Yes I did use that word, poignant; keen or strong in mental appeal: a subject of poignant interest, affecting or moving the emotions, because that's how I felt watching them. It's not easy for me to stop thinking about what I 'need' to be doing or what I 'should' be doing. But for that brief moment I was just aware of them and their physical beauty and of their carefree attitudes and I loved it. Kind of sappy but it really was a great DAILURE.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Daily Drag-'Dailrag'

Husband Jordi has been having 'issues' with his stomach for years. Last year he had an attack and the doctor said his "enzyme level" was extremely high. He's just had all sorts of tests, including an MRI and now they want to "see" him next week. I know I shouldn't panic, before he gets the results, but that's exactly what I'm doing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dailure: Chatting with Alexandra

That girl makes me laugh! She can change my mood completely with her funny stories. Her love of life is quite contagious.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

VTS training

I have been asked to go to Atlanta, Ga., on May 31st, to train a bunch of teachers, in VTS, for four days. I do like to train! I also appreciate the money I make doing it.


Preparing a good dinner; healthy, tasty, and aesthetically pleasing, has become a challenge. Now that we are a full family, Elisabet just arrived home from college, it's my goal to sit down with everyone, at night and have a family dinner. But I do run out of creative ideas. And with a bit of a time constraint I find myself scrambling. Then end result is well worth the effort. I love having a meal together. Sometimes the banter is about politics, sometimes it's just a family squabble, but whatever the topic of conversation it's good to be together.

Friday, May 14, 2010


We went back to visit Barcelona and to celebrate my mother in-law's 90th birthday. I hadn't spent time in the city in many years and I really enjoyed being there. We walked and walked and walked. We ate fresh fresh tapas and I saw family and friends. We went to the Picasso museum and it had been expanded quite a bit. I was shocked at the amount of tourists that had invaded the city. Tourism isn't 'hurting' in that city. We were only there for a week and it was too short. I even went running on the careterra del aguas. It is up on Tipidabo and overlooks the beautiful city.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daily Drag (that seemed to drag on and on and on...)

Yesterday, April 28, 2010

The day went from bad to worse. It started with my husband yelling at me bc I filled out the census form and "shouldn't have included Elisabet bc she goes to college and doesn't actually live here anymore!" Then I got yelled at a couple of docents (volunteers) because I mucked up a tour. Then a great friend, giving a tour,doing a fantastic job, got angry (rightfully so because I upstaged her). So I ended up taking her to lunch and spent the hour trying to make things right.

She sent me an email and this is what I wrote back (she thought I should submit it to some publication but the blog is just as good):

Thanks Esther. My only got worse; starting with the dog,
> jumping out of the car, when we went to the 'doggie' park, and
> possibly tearing a ligament. I had to take her (actually Sophie and
> Daniel carried her) the 'Emergency Pet Room', where they 'felt'
> her leg and gave me two prescriptions. The bill came to $134.00.
> My credit card didn't work and they didn't accept checks so I had to
> phone Jordi to come and pay the 'nice' people. He got all crazy
> because they wouldn't accept his credit card "over the phone" and
> decided he was going to Go Postal on them. So I took the kids and
> high tailed it out. He didn't end up Going Postal but is pretty
> angry, again, at me. That all was followed by a melt down from
> Daniel. Actually, we ended up having a fantastic discussion! I asked
> him to "explain to me the difference between one paint ball gun and
> the other". The other being $300 more than the second, which was
> replaced by the first, which he said "wasn't efficient enough".
> Anyway, the kid KNOWS paintball guns and all of their features. At
> least I know he's learning something. We ended up agreeing that he is
> very capable and will earn the money, on his own, to buy that gun
> (even tho I don't like it). I told him I would "help" make signs to
> advertise him. He will try and give young kids drum lessons over the
> summer. He was good with this idea. Man, is it hard to raise kids.
> But I really felt a break
> through and I think your advice about helping out really helped.
> Thanks.
> So I'm am up, at 5:30, ready to face a day that I am SURE will be much
> much better than yesterday. Hope you have a good one with Daniel.


As much as I like vacations I think part of the fun is the actual planning of them; where are we going? what new sites will we see, what fun restaurants will we eat in? what old friends will we see? We are going to Barcelona, on May 6th, for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. I'm looking forward to getting away, alone, with Jordi, seeing my in-laws and being back in Spain. It's been 10 years since we've had a trip, alone, and it's much needed. It's been 3 years since we've been back to Spain. And as much as I like to travel thinking about traveling is almost as fun. I'm usually never disappointed.

Kavita Ramdas: Radical women, embracing tradition | Video on

Kavita Ramdas: Radical women, embracing tradition | Video on

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Egg in a hole

Most mornings (school) I make my son and myself an egg in a hole. On really 'special' days I'll make bacon. It's wonderful and something my step-son taught us. Take a piece of bread, make a hole, and drop the egg in. So easy and so good. Instead of carping to my children, about 'how important breakfast is', I thought I'd let them learn by example so I sit down, with them and have the same breakfast. I do think that breakfast tastes great (combined with that first cup of coffee!).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hanging at the House

I must say that just hanging out, lately, with my 16-year old daughter has been really nice. She seems to be turning into a lovely and thoughtful girl and our conversations run the gambit, from 'boys' to what's been going on in Haiti, to living in Spain. She has started talking to me about her hopes her dreams and her aspirations; which also run the gambit, from "nothing" to "medicine". It's hard to believe that I only have two more years with her at home. Then she's off. It'll be really nice to have Elisabet at home, this summer. Can't wait to see what the dynamics of three women, together, will be.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Clinton Global Initiative

The second annual Clinton Global Initiative took place at the University of Miami.  Bill Clinton began this project with the intent to encourage young people with 'ideas' to go forward.  The ideas range from building a car that gets 200 miles to the gallon to help plant sustainable gardens, in Haiti (two students from Miami).  The CGI foundation gives funds to these students to get started.  I went to hear him and these students talk about how they got started.  One student, from the University of Penn. has started an NGO in the West Bank (he's an Orthodox Jew), giving microcredit to Palestinian entrepreneurs.  The idea, brilliant, in my opinion, is that if these people can have lives that they "want to get out of bed for", less turmoil goes on in that region and better for Israel (he's a self-proclaimed "Zionist").  So far he's given out something like 100 loans, 95% of them have been paid back.  Clinton was amazing; funny, charming and passionate.  You can't help but love the guy!

Meeting new people

A friend, of ours, who has recently moved away from Miami put us in touch with a young couple, recent transplants from Chicago.  They came over last night and we had a great time, just yacking.  It's fun to meet new people, especially when you think alike.  And I like the idea of cultivating friendships with people who are much younger (I would venture to guess they are in their late 30s).  The time just flew and we made plans to get together again.  

Dailure at the dog park

I started taking Cleo to the dog park.  Yesterday we were there for two hours; don't know where the time went, we 'met' new dogs, played in the pond and schmoozed.  Cleo and I had a great time.  Dog people seem to be funny people, they don't jump into relationships, they size their humans up, go 'smelling' around for ilk of their kind or not, and then only speak 'dog'.  It's a whole new world to me.  I don't think I'm really an Alpha human. I don't feel comfortable just joining the circle, kind of stand outside and assess for awhile and 'feel' my way in.  And that's exactly how Cleo behaves in her world.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dailure - Cat Purring

There is something very soothing and peaceful about a cat purring. It's the perfect expression of sheer bliss.

Friday, April 2, 2010


So I've been on vacation, all week, and it's been an absolutely gorgeous week! High 70s low 80s, sunny and no humidity. I've been doing things like reading, running, sleeping and cooking. Monday night was Passover, at Mindy's house and she had the usual cast of characters: aunts, cousins, children, and new friends. My parents were invited and they had a good time. We read from a new Haggadah and it's always interesting bc I believe that no two Haggadahs are alike?! I also had an opportunity to go to the Sony Ericsson tennis tournament a couple of times. A friend invited me, during the day, and we spent about five hours and watched three different matches. We had 8th row, center seats. I could practically feel the sweat coming off of the players. It was spectacular. I've never seen tennis up close like that. And the speed and accuracy, with which the players hit the ball, impressive. I loved having a week off! It made me appreciate 'free time'. Learning how to relax isn't easy. But I think I finally got the hang of it. Too bad it's just in time for me to go back to work!


I do love to watch tennis, on the television. When it's good it's very very good. I've been watching a lot of the Sony Ericsson tournaments and having a blast, screaming and yelling at the set (tv set that is). It's fun being there but also fun sitting in your own living room, kicking back, with a bowl of popcorn and a beer, or a glass or wine and just 'chillin'.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dailure - Hope's Quiche

Julie and I made your quiche this weekend and it was delicious! We added jalapeno for a Texas kick. YUM!

PS Julie has been trying to post this dailure on your blog, but we're having trouble. She's a follower now, but there is no place for her to click "new post". It keeps asking her to create a blog. Does she have to do that before being able to post to this blog?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dailure-Book Groups

I have been involved with a book group (not the same one) for the last 20-some years and I find that if I have a book, to read, and it's 'due' at a specific time and I know I'm going to have to talk about it I read 'better'. That is to say I am a lazy reader and if I'm just reading for the fun of it (I do read for pleasure) my concentration is better if I have a goal, to read intelligently. I must say it's hard to remember sometimes; I forget characters names, dates, and good quotes, but I'm trying to read with a different perspective. I'm trying to read to pull out the main idea(s) and how characters play into that. Maybe it's age but maybe it's just that there is so much to be read that I can't stop to worry about those kinds of details anymore. And I have found that when I stop 'worrying' about not being able to remember those things I get a lot more from a book!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dailure-Florida weather

I'm not one to gloat. And I suppose when speaking of the weather, really, nobody can gloat (except for Mother Nature). But the weather, in Florida, right now, today (and yesterday) is absolutely PERFECT; 75 degrees, no humidity and the sun is shining brightly. I just think after a miserable winter (yes, I know, I don't know miserable weathers because I live in Florida and people who live in Wisconsin, Chicago, even New York, now they know miserable weather), which was, on record, the "coldest" winter in recorded history, I can say we finally have beautiful Florida weather. It just makes the day so much nicer. I went for a run, took the dog out for several walks, had lunch, with a friend outside, altogether glorious.

Dailure - Lavender

I went to a lavender farm with Julie this weekend. The lavender won't be ready for cutting till late summer but the weather was perfect, the spot was beautiful and they had a great little shop full of lavender products of all sorts. That lavender scent is the best!

Friday, March 12, 2010


I do like this blog, Daily Delights and Daily Drags, but feel that there need to be 'contributions'; sort of feel like I'm writing in a vacuum, hello, anyone home? Where did all the peoples go? I mean the pressure to keep writing, I even heard from my daughter's best friend, that when a day or more, goes by, and there are no entries, she is "sad". So I'm thinking that maybe we need a branding change. Daily Delights and Daily Drags may need a name change. How about a poll out there, ya hearing me you 'followers'? If we could get enough of our people 'out there' sending it to say, five (5), of their friends that would be twenty-five people! And then those 25 could send it to 5 and...soon we'd have lots and lots of people making contributions and deciding if we need to change our name. Because frankly I'm tired of 'hearing' my lone voice (except for you Sally and you Betsy), I do like hearing about other peoples daily delights and daily drags (I do like that name not sure what it should be changed to?!).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I took the dog out at 4:00 AM (she woke me) and I was stunned by the silence, not a peep, and it was almost eerie. But when I stood there, waiting for Cleo to do her thing, I waited and listened and thought 'how often, during the day, do I hear silence?!' And it was amazing. There is so much white-noise, I'm listening to the air vent, radio, dog playing and it's only 6:15 AM. So in 15 minutes Sophie will wake up, then Jordi, and the breakfast will be made; blenders blending, eggs boiling, toast toasting, PLUS all of the other noise. So next time I get up at 4:00 AM to take the dog out I will wait longer and relish the lack of noise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Wolf Kahn is an artist I've always liked. He does landscapes in pastels and oils. But his landscapes are somewhat abstract and that's what I like. He also uses funky colors (a bit like Milton Avery), like, a lime green for water, and pink for sky. A friend (an artist) pointed out that really he focuses, much of the time, on shapes (see image).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dailure-Clean Sheets

I do like the smell and feel of clean sheets. It's not really daily, that I change my sheets, more like weekly, but the lasting effect is about a week. It helps me sleep through the night and THAT is of high importance when it comes to being a 'better' me!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dailure-TED talks

I'm not sure this constitutes as a 'dailure' but I just got word that the TED conference people want the person I nominated to apply to be a speaker. It's so exciting! If Philip Yenawine, Co-Founder of VTS is accepted it could be huge for him and VTS. YEA!!!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dailure-One blog to another

This comes from the NYT, February 28, 2010

Setting Mealtime Rules

Kate Buckley is a stay-at-home mother of two “raucous” sons (the adjective is hers) who live in Adelaide Hills, Australia. She has a blog, “Eating the Daisies,” which she began after the family moved from the city to the suburbs and the boys kept trying to munch on the flowers.

Apparently there has been much discussion of eating at her house lately, because yesterday she posted the “Meal Policy at Buckley’s Bed & Breakfast.” The memorandum reads as follows:

To: Offspring
From: Management
Re: Meal Policy

Lately there seems to be some confusion regarding the Meal Policy at Buckley’s Bed & Breakfast.

For your clarification, we have reprinted it below.

You will note that there is a new section on ‘Snacks’. This was added after careful consideration and zero consultation.

All changes are effective immediately.

Meal Policy
• There will be one common dinner provided for all lodgers each night.
• You will eat it.
• We do not care if you do not like tomatoes.
• If you finish everything on your plate, you will get dessert.
• If, after tasting the dinner you cannot choke it down, you may (a) make yourself some toast or (b) try your luck at the neighbor’s; either way, dessert is off the cards.
• There will be no food or drink (other than water) issued once you have brushed your teeth; therefore, we would recommend eating a second serve — tomatoes or no tomatoes — at dinner time.
• Snacks will be available throughout the day.
• ‘Snacks’ are defined as: fruit, nuts and carrot sticks.
• If you really are starving, you will eat them.


The Management

p.s. Management loves you. xoxoxo

What is the meal policy at your house? (Bloggers note: I wish I had discovered this earlier on in my life, when my children were small. Maybe it's not too late to implement the same rules??!!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dailure - Cooking with Good Friends

I spent the afternoon and evening cooking with my friend, Julie. One of the things we made was Betsy's focaccia. It filled the house with the most wonderful aroma and it was delicious! It also takes a while as one has to wait for the dough to rise, which gave us plenty of time to prepare everything else, as well as chatting, drinking and laughing. And then at the end, there is that delicious meal to enjoy together, with more chatting, drinking and laughing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This isn't a real dailure; because I have only done it a couple of times, but having lunch with my dad, every other week, has been a real pleasure. I spend a lot of time with my mother (when they are in South Florida) but not so much with my father. They come for dinner and we go out with them but it's never 'alone time' with him. Yesterday, I invited him to come to our house, for lunch. I asked him what his "favorite job" was. He's now almost 88 and he has had about 13 different jobs in his life time. To me, that is amazing, because in those days most people had one, two maybe five, at the most, jobs. But 13?! He told me his "favorite job" was working with a Think Tank, called CIC, in Madison, Wisconsin. He was part of a team, which was working on a pilot , which would create an intercollegiate research project. It sounded really interesting. However, the pilot never became a 'real' project. He also enjoyed working as the chief economist, under Mayor Meyer (sp?) and then moved to Head of City Development. He's had some really interesting work! I think he enjoys talking about his experiences as much as I do listening to him.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I've always loved oatmeal cookies and have recently begun eating a breakfast of a large bowl of oatmeal. I usually make it with wheat germ and throw in yogurt. It tastes so good and keeps me going for the morning. I love it hot!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Working with VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies) for the last nine years has introduced me to an amazing group of people; smart, funny and down-to-earth. Philip Yenawine, Co-Founder, is an incredible human being who is full of passion and VTS is a means to an end, to give underserved students the chance at a good education. Philip wrote a letter about his trip to Bangkok and I wanted to post it.

I'm in a plane flying home, so cramped I might not be able to finish
this but I wanted to give some kind of account of this remarkable
time. It was a pretty difficult trip, partly because Bangkok where I
spent most of the time is challenging on many levels: big, congested,
noisy, polluted, and not very attractive. I think it might be true of
many Asian cities: they've grown so fast that developmental controls
are few, and the worst part of this is how little of old, traditional
building remains. Instead you get a lot of concrete, a little glass,
almost no green. But to stress this misses a more important point:
people were wonderful to me every where I went.

Altogether I did 12 days of presenting and applying VTS in Thailand
spread between Bkk, Chaing Mai and Chaing Rai. The latter two cities
are in the north where it's more mountainous and the presence of
nature is at hand, despite the density of development. Chaing Rai is
very near the borders of Myanmar and Laos and the reason for being
there was to work, via a great organization called the Mirror
Foundation, with both kids and adults from the "hill tribes"--people
who live in ethnic groups which until recently were pretty much out
of mainstream culture. Now they are attending schools and learning
thai, and at such a rate that their traditional ways will soon be
lost. Some look at this with regret but they're moving forward
anyway, wanting such things as plumbing and electricity. They have
been and are so poor that children were, maybe are sometimes sold
into virtual slavery, including the sex trade which is huge in the
cities. Organizations like the Mirror Foundation are set up to help
stop this and to offer remedial education, employment opportunities,
and social services--and also to try to maintain some respect for
what was once there, culturally.

I worked for a day and a half with about 15 kids, discussing pictures
and writing, and everyone was astounded first that they were willing
to talk and second in the changes in their writing even in that
impossibly short time. It was clearly most beneficial for the 13 and
14 year olds but even the two ten year olds went from making drawings
to writing a few sentences about images they'd discussed. I was
working through a translator who was pretty skeptical to begin with
but who got so into it, he was facilitating the discussions by the
end, occasionally stopping to fill me in on what was going on. I also
worked with a group of adults, some of whom are in training to be
guides to their villages (offering tourists a more authentic view
into the cultures than what the big city guides provide which is more
like a docent tour of a zoo....really), others of whom are creating
and recreating crafts to sell and self support, and others are
working with youth to try to keep them from alcohol, drugs and
getting into trouble. Some of the youth workers were teens themselves.

In any case, what I did with them was demo and deconstruct VTS for
them to use as a tool for discussing issues, collaborating in problem
solving. The tour guides decided on some questions to ask their
groups as they looked at traditional huts and rice paddies. Hard to
tell what they took from it really and in any ongoing sense but it
was clear that they saw that putting their heads together as groups
helped them appreciate each other more and they actually talked
through some abiding challenges while I was there.

I learned more from this than any of them, I'm sure, and the power of
vts to pull voices from the timid and usually unheard works in
corners most people would think of as backward. I was basically
glowing for the two very long, engaging, intense, warm hearted days.
So were my keepers from the US Embassy; no one had ever asked them to
visit these areas, much less work with the locals.

I probably should say that I was working as a cultural envoy, still a
bit unclear what that means in general. I was recommended to the
embassy by an American guy who first encountered VTS when I was in
residence with Linda at the Univ of Illinois. The planning of the
trip was basically a negotiation-- you want to do WHAT? Though I
don't think anyone really got it til we began work, the embassy
people (two women, one Thai both of whom I liked a lot, and a good
thing; we were together solidly for 8 days) none the less set it up
so that I not only got the time among the hill tribes but also did
presentations for the public, for the faculties of education and fine
arts at three major universities, for art teachers, and in Chaing Mai
for 100 representatives of the school district including those in
charge. (300 wanted to come; they limited the number; the
presentation was held in a hotel in front of which was a banner
welcoming Philip Yenawine...the manager rushed to greet me with an
arrangement of flowers which is basically their equivalent of a
lei.... It was a riot.)

Can you imagine the entire faculty of education at, say, Stanford
spending a full day hearing about VTS? At the major univ in Bangkok
about 40 people from the university took a two day workshop....I
spent one other day there with undergraduates--we VTS'd images as
well as poetry and other texts. In that case, we used English, but I
was interpreted the other days, which is hard. The questions from the
faculty were continuous but not hostile, and it turns out that part
of the interest results from the fact that the Thai education
ministry recently announced that the teaching of critical thinking is
an essential skill. As near as I can tell, people were as grateful
for what our research documents as thinking skills as they were for
seeing how VTS could nurture them. There were almost gasps when I
showed them writing samples and basically parsed them to point out
changes. Again, because these were more presentations than trainings,
and because of challenges in language/translation, I can't imagine
that anything substantial was actually learned. But even the
faculties of fine arts were attentive, participatory, and receptive.
To give it my usual, tasteful turn of phrase, it was a mind fuck to
be listened to in this way by so many educators.

Just to make sure that I had seven days of presenting in a row, I let
the American guy talk me into work with a corporation on one day--at
the end of which we boarded a plane to the north to start the next
morning with the hill tribe kids. About 40 people from the company's
design and management teams vts'd art, got a lecture on Housen, and
eventually talked their way to new understandings of both their ads
and those of competitors. These teams are often at loggerheads it
appears and have no language to communicate but by the end of the day
they were brainstorming new solutions to certain of their promotions.
VTS power.... We could have a business doing this, and also training
people to facilitate discussions using experience with art to build
what we all know it builds. Somehow it's not gratifying in the way
that working with hill tribe kids, or even elite college students, so
I eventually told the American, who as it happens is extraordinarily
difficult, that I wouldn't return in early March to work with Coke
and another multi-national. Among other things it's too far to go.
But the real thing is that it takes time and energy away from our
mission with schools.

Altogether there were eleven presentations in twelve days in
thailand. Most nights i was in bed by 9. The last time I tried
anything close to this was when we were working in the former soviet
nations but I was twelve years younger.... I could barely move during
the two days I had off in Bangkok before leaving for Hong Kong.

I was invited to Hong Kong by the director of a small contemporary
art space. He'd been the curator at the Canary Islands center when it
caught the VTS virus. He asked me to come to do a training on Housen
and applications for both teaching and writing for the current
participants in a curatorial training program they run, one of very
few in Asia. It was a small group--five--but we had a long and
productive day. The next morning I spoke at a breakfast for about 20
art and education leaders in Hong Kong--it was almost scary how much
energy there was in the room--a reflection of HK generally. It's hard
to imagine it's vitality. Afterwards I met with the staff of the
Asian Art Archive, which is attempting to fully document contemporary
art in Asia which is another scene that has a vibrancy I haven't seen
since nyc in the 80s. They'd love to work with us if we end up
needing images; they also want to do more educational outreach and
are fascinated by VTS. I had Friday day off, and yesterday did
another 10 to 6 presentation open to the public which turned out
mostly to be teachers of various sorts. Again the reception was
positive. We may get more invitations to visit there and elsewhere.
(Asians are amazingly peripatetic; they live and work in multiple
places it seems.)

It won't be surprising to hear that people are more interested and
supportive of education in these two Asian countries than is the
case in the US: look at who excels at US universities. But one
impression that I am left with is that we're losing in more ways than
one. Autocratic governments may oppress--I am sure they do--but
decisions get made, which is more than we can say for our government.
There is so much more money available for all sorts of
things--investing, educating, taking care of people--that all I can
think at the moment is that we're already behind Asia in a whole lot
of important ways, and the dysfunction of our economy and gov't make
it so I haven't a clue how we'll catch up, much less remain a
wealthy, productive nation by comparison. Of course the giants are
japan and China--and then there's India-- but even in Thailand which
is relatively poor, I have the distinct impression that things are
getting better at a fast rate while the US contracts and suffers.
Consider the tribal villages as symbolic: they are moving from abject
poverty and backwardness to extinction via the kids getting educated
and moving out and up. Maybe 15 years for the transformation. The
kids love their villages but they're not staying there. The cities
are growing frighteningly but I see more homeless and destitute in LA
than I did anywhere I visited....

Hong Kong is built on this huge rock and you get glimpses here and
there of what it must have been but like so many other places what
Mother Nature gave us is one thing and what people have done with
it/to it is another. Virtually every square inch is occupied. An
unbelievable number of tall buildings, most of them scary, a few
stately and vestigially colonial, some good vintage modernism, but a
lot of them new, slick and oh so chic. Shopping is huge every where
whether it's street markets/vendors or malls full of Prada, Dolce,
Armani etc etc. One stunning moment was taking a taxi to what's known
as the Peak--the top of one of the mountain crests. I was expecting
what you get at the top of San Francisco peaks--a park, benches,
astounding views. I got out of the cab in an underground garage sort
of thing, and, confused, gave a look at the driver who pointed to an
escalator. Up I went into a plasti-plush shopping mall surrounded by
decks that overlooked what was once magnificent for its natural
appeal and now is awe-inspiring for the way humans have inhabited
it... Astonishing. Also cold and windy and mostly foggy. I ate some
lunch-- it's actually weird how the good places to eat are often in
the ubiquitous malls--and got back in a taxi to return to my hotel to
sleep some more. Space, by the way, is at such a premium that in the
boutique hotel where they put me up I had to do my exercises on my
bed. God forbid there had been two suitcases.

It was a good trip for VTS. It was tiring for me; can't do this
again. When I say I am too old, I fucking mean it. Still I had such
wonderful moments with dreamy people that I come away from it feeling
enriched almost as much as depleted. I invited the director of the
Mirror Foundation and any staff that could come to supper the first
evening in Chaing Rai. It was a Sunday, and we met at the night
market. Dinner for eight was $60 which one of the embassy people
insisted on splitting with me. There was a stage at one end of the
plaza where all during dinner traditional musicians were playing.
Turns out they were the opening act: the next was four drag queens
who were exquisite, on the one hand, and preposterous on the other.
What was amazing was the response: no biggy. My mouth wouldn't close;
this wasn't the east village, but everybody around me took "lady
boys" as a matter of course. So there's that factor about Thais: live
and let live. And, on the other hand, during discussions of an
African mother and child many of you would recognize, adults couldn't
really spit out the word breasts....even the translator stumbled.

Ain't life grand?