My Own Stage

A reminder to all of us to keep our dreams alive.

A refugee's journey - Vietnam to Australia

My dream of creating my own stage and drawing an audience has been buried beneath other priorities in my life. My dream of creating my own stage and drawing an audience has been buried beneath other priorities in my life.

For me, music has always been a stream of inspiration, the medicine for dejection, and an elixir of zest.

I love to sing, and find myself perpetually absorbed by the songs on stages, TVs, radios,… In my adolescent, I would put fingers on my throat when singing to make the vibrato, and put my face inside a wash-basin to feel the echo and amplification of my voice.

In my 40s, I took private singing lessons and joined a choir that exclusively sang ABBA songs. However, I felt dissatisfied with only two public performances per year for the group. I managed to quench my thirst of singing through the occasional karaoke party but just like fashion, the trend died down after a few years.

An encounter with a young girl sowed…

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10 Tips To A Happy Marriage: Men’s Advice to Men

How could I not reblog this? Thanks, Bassam. Good stuff.

Against the Herd


Surrounded by some of my most trusted friends, I asked the following question: “if you could distill your top relationship lesson into a one-liner, what would it be?” A passionate, sincere, and admittedly sometimes humorous discussion ensued between a group of men whose ages ranged from twenties to sixties, some of whom had been married for decades, some recently divorced, and others newly-minted husbands. It was a diverse set of perspectives.  Out of respect for them, I’ll keep the content anonymous; out of respect for you, the reader, I’ve distilled them to ten brief tips.

1. Learn to listen

“It’s easy not to be present when reading a book or watching a sports event; but being present for one’s spouse when they’re talking to you is key to their feeling that they’re a priority. Learn to listen to them.”

2. Stay interesting

“The stories came easily in the beginning; we were both…

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Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

That’s the subtitle of The Professor and the Madman, written by Simon Winchester in 1998.

The Professor and the Madman

The madman is William C. Minor, a Civil War surgeon. His latent madness may have been triggered during the two days of the stunningly bloody encounter known as the Battle of Wilderness, which occurred in Orange County, Virginia in early May of 1864.

Later, in London, he commits murder, is arrested and incarcerated, and spends the balance of his life in asylums for the criminally insane. What is remarkable is this astonishingly gifted man’s decades-long contribution to the compilation of the OED.

A friend who lives in Oxford and whose work is involved with the OED told me that Winchester–the author of a dozen books on various other topics–wrote a second tome about the famed dictionary in collaboration with a friend of hers. Written in 2004, The Meaning of Everything has been touted by The New York Times Book Review as “supremely readable.”

That’s next on my list after finishing Deborah Devonshire’s memoir, Wait For Me! and Stefan Zweig’s  The World of Yesterday. More on those in a future post.

In the meantime, happy summer reading to you.

P.S. Speaking of reading, I am thrilled to announce that my second memoir, published earlier this year, is a semi-finalist in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Award Competition.

You can get your copy on Amazon by clicking here:

See you next time!


Bats in the Belfry . . . and the Bedroom

Yesterday I published a link to an NPR article about bats ( I also wrote I had not realized the trouble we really were in when we lived in a log cabin in the woods in New Hampshire.

The Bat House

Here are two related excerpts from the chapter “Pollyanna-ville” in my memoir, A Movable Marriage.

“Another swoop, another scream, and I was in the bedroom with the door closed. The problem with the bedroom, however, was the door would not latch. How could I rest thinking the bat might come in there, too? In a flash I envisioned a dreadful scene. I would be sleeping—fitfully, no doubt—and a bat would become tangled in my hair.”


“When (the Bat Man) did arrive, the first exciting news was, he estimated we had as many as eighty of the critters hanging around above us in the center rafter.”

Now here’s an excerpt from the NPR piece:

“Public health officials say that another human rabies death back in 2011 involved similar missed opportunities. In that case, a South Carolina woman woke up to a bat in her bedroom and shook it out of curtains through an open window. She believed she’d had no direct contact with the bat, and did not seek medical attention.”

Yet she later died. Talk about counting our blessings!

We have bats here in Portugal, too. When Keith and I took an intensive course in Portuguese at the University of Coimbra, we learned about those inhabiting the Joanine Library.

The article reports that bats are also in the library of the Palacio Nacional in Mafra, less than ten minutes from where we currently live. We’re not in the rare book business, though, so I feel fairly safe.

Mafra 2

Of course, it’s not over ‘til the bat lady sings.

Day 15: Homeward Bound

We’d had typical weather for Ireland this time of year: partly cloudy, cloudy, mostly cloudy, and rainy. Temperature ranged from only forty to fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, I laughed when I saw the “Spring Arrivals” at Ashford Castle when we were there.Spring Arrivals at Kylemore

Yet for the past seven straight days the sun had shined brilliantly. We knew it had to end. Sure enough, snow began to fall from a slate gray sky as we taxied down the runway at Dublin Airport. That was fine. Nothing could detract from the vivid images fixed in my mind.

Sheep on the Meadow

Colorful SheepFleecy white sheep on verdant Connemara hillsides, many ewes bearing colors. Why? Rams are sometimes put into a harness at mating time. The harnesses have a colored, waxy block in them, which leave a mark on the ewe when mounted, so owners know which ewes have been mated with and which have not. After three weeks the color of the crayon is changed. Any ewe that is re-mated gets the second color on her. This one’s been busy.

And then the babies come.

Baby Lambs Closeup






Dazzling color came in the ubiquitous Western Gorse, an evergreen shrub prevalent in countries of Western Europe.

These vibrant hues of green, pink, blue, yellow all combined to lighten the gray days. The glorious red-orange of a Renvyle sunset completed the color spectrum.

Stay lovely, Ireland. Then again, I know you cannot help yourself.

Renvyle Sunset