I Can’t Handle Being a Well Known Blogger

For bloggers there is a certain warm feeling, that despite what you write on your blog, the chances of meeting anyone in person someone who reads the blog are pretty slim. The chances of meeting someone who reads your blog well enough to quote your own stories back to you is REALLY rare.

It happened.

La Finca Pizzaria

La Finca Pizzaria

Bek and Victoria invited us to La Finca Pizzaria along with their friends Mike and Karen. Nancy and Victoria have the same birthdays and love of shopping, so they have been buddies for a long time.

But we just met Mike and Karen and they actually admitted that they read BOTH our blogs. Regularly. Enough to quote back to use posts that we had long since forgotten we had written.

Mike asked if I was going to start wearing “big boy” pants based on this post

Mike had met Nancy briefly once before. They were in Dra. Candy’s waiting room and he asked Nancy if she had an Aunt Francis who was 100 years old!

She does. And she wrote about it here.

Mike commented at dinner that he noticed that Nancy had bumped her Aunt Francis celebrating her 100th birthday off the front page of her blog, and Nancy admitted that she only wrote new stuff because he said something to her the first time they met and she felt guilty about not writing.

Karen asked me if I was Going Like Sixty. Sometimes I’m uneasy admitting that I am. I’ve written some pretty provocative stuff in the past… but I owned up to the authorship.

As the night wore on… Mike referred  to these blog posts.

And Karen said she read Keeping You in Stitches and Mi Chunche regularly.

Victoria noted: “Be careful what you say, it could end up in their blogs.”

She’s right.

Ema, Bek, Victoria

Ema, Bek, Victoria

Karen and Mike

Karen and Mike


How NOT to Impress Costa Rica Politicians


Municipal Building Downtown Atenas

I attended my first town council meeting.


I got thrown out of my first town council meeting.


Monday evening, some of the residents of Guacimo de Atenas decided to register their displeasure with lack of action to repair the road from Atenas to Guacimo.. They had already done an impromptu blockage of the road.

We decided that I should attend the meeting as a show of support for our neighbors. I wrote out a little speech to deliver in Spanish and everything.

They threw me out before I could deliver it.

I was wearing shorts.

The council meets in a typical government meeting room. Desks placed in a “U” shape with microphones for the elected officials. The public was seated in folding chairs and on benches around the perimeter of the room.

I arrived early and took a seat on a bench in the corner, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.  The room quickly filled with officials and members of the public – 30 people in all.

The first order of business was to swear in newly elected officials.

They read their second order of business and voted.

Alcaldesa: Querima Bérmudez V.

Mayor of Atenas Querima Bérmudez V.

Then the woman running the meeting (not the mayor) made a statement, looked at me, and every head in the room swiveled and looked RIGHT AT ME.

I made a goofy embarrassed face and stood. I said (in spanish) that my spanish was not very good and I didn’t understand. As per usual, she said the same thing – and everybody looked at me AGAIN.  A woman in the back said

“El no comprendo.”

A young man caught my eye and said (in english) “You can’t be in the meeting wearing short pants.”

I would have been very happy if a sink hole would have opened beneath me and I disappeared forever.

It didn’t. I got thrown out.

I said in spanish “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. It is my fault. Please excuse me.”

Getting thrown out is hyperbole of course. Everybody was very understanding. They said I was welcome to sit on the bench outside and listen through the windows. A woman soon followed me out and pointed to her knee length pants and did the circle-the-ear gesture and said. “Loco.”



After I took my place on the bench, Carmen, a council member who spoke english came out and explained the reason I was thrown out.  She asked if I was with the Guacimo contingent to address the meeting. If so, she could be happy to stand with me in the doorway and translate. Very very nice gesture.

The meeting continued and I could not understand ONE. DAMN. WORD. A combination of amplified spanish, cars, motos, and bus traffic, pretty much guaranteed that I was doomed.

BUT...As they say in the newspaper business, I’ve “buried the lead.”

Our road will be asphalted.

Not clear if the work will start in June or be finished in June. Like now, this year!

I’ll believe it when I see it. But everybody in the meeting seemed convinced that the road will be asphalt. I gave a ride back to Guacimo to seven Ticos and they were chatting and laffing and making plans for the improvement. They are already looking forward to getting pizza in Escobal!

There were ideas for fiestas and a tope to celebrate.

I will be there in shorts.

UPDATE: I guess we were flat-out lied to… an attorney that works for the municipality contact the federal highway commission (CONAVI) and they told him they didn’t know anything about the meeting… and had no plans to do anything. The attorney said he would make a request for road improvement.




Twitter Kindles a Ferris State College Memory

Hallisy Hall Ferris State University
I’m enjoying the Twitter a lot these days. It’s enabled some intercourse with people who I’ve never met face-to-face. AND BTW, aren’t you glad they call it Social Media rather than Social Intercourse? Anyways…

As I’m scrolling through the Tweets today, this pops up:

I thought the dorm featured in the video looked familiar.

Sure enough, Hallisy Hall still stands.

Hallisy Hall was where I lived for the two best years of my life. Ferris State College Class of ’69.  I lived there in 1966-68. At the time, it was one of the dorms with larger “suites.”  Two dorm rooms attached by a bathroom. I had one roommate and two “suite-mates.” I remember getting funny looks when I referred to my “suite-mates.”

My first stay at Hallisy Hall, I roomed with a Resident Assistant (RA.)  It was supposed to be a temp assignment until somebody dropped out and I could move in with another freshman.  It never happened. Probably was a good thing because he was older, more responsible, and more mature. Role model, and all that.

I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

There were no co-ed dorms at Ferris State College (now Ferris State University) so it was a building overflowing with testosterone. One of the features that made Hallisy Hall desirable was the fact that our meals were eaten in the Student Center (other colleges would call it The Union.)  There were three other dorms that ate in the same place – all females.

Not that was important to me, because Nancy and I had a “thing.” She was attending Western Michigan University about 100 miles away.

The guys that lived in Hallisy Hall did our best to knock it down.

I’m glad it’s still standing.

Carpe Diem – On Strike, Shut It Down


There was an impromptu trucker’s strike blocking many of the major highways in Costa Rica. Usually they announce well in advance the stoppage so people aren’t surprised.

Not today.

The Autopista Del Sol, the major highway from the Pacific Coast to San Jose was shut down. It was reported that the alternative West/East highway, Highway 3 was also blockaded.

So this meant that people wanting to get to the coast to San Jose could drive on Highway 707, the dirt road we live on and then catch other roads, missing the roadblocks.

Not today.

The people of Guacimo decided that this was the perfect opportunity to get the attention of local elected officials. They blocked the road with tree stumps, boulders – decorated with the Costa Rica flag.

I had the car at home and was supposed to meet Nancy in Atenas after a knitting shopping trip she took with friends. I made it about 500 meters from our gate until I hit a traffic jam!

Drivers that were turning around said the roads were blocked “everywhere.”  So I parked and walked up into Donwtown Guacimo. That’s when I saw the “bloqueo” (blockage)

I saw a lot of neighbors – including our housekeeper milling around the roadblock. But I couldn’t speak Spanish well enough to figure out what was going on.

A friend who is fluent in Spanish soon arrived and told me that the people of Guacimo knew the autopista was closed and seized the day to block our road in protest of its poor condition.  They contacted a local official and supposedly s/he was to arrive on the scene to hear the protests.

Maybe today.


UPDATE: It was an entirely peaceful and quiet protest. No chanting, no marching, no turning over of cars. Just people milling about sharing their frustration with the government.

Communicating With The Dead: The Hand On The Mirror


The question of what happens after we die has always challenged us. The topic makes us uneasy. Here we are, living active and full lives. Why do we even want to think about death? Then it strikes. We lose someone we love and we are faced with contemplating death and the afterlife. Scientists, theologians, writers, musicians, poets, and artists have all addressed the question directly or indirectly. (sponsored by Grand Central Publishing)

I spent my entire career around skeptics. After all that’s what you learn in the newspaper business. Trust but verify. If your mother says she loves you, get a second source.

It’s a burden. Many people are capable of just taking things at face value and don’t think twice about alternatives.

When I heard of a boomer newspaper woman who believes she is communicating with her dead husband, I thought it would be an interesting story.

It is.

the-hand-on-the-mirror-coverThe Hand on the Mirror is her story.

Janice Durham and her husband Max Healy were a California power couple. She was publisher of the Sacramento Bee, the fifth largest newspaper in California. The newspaper won two Pulitzer prizes when she was publisher. He was a powerful political consultant.

He died in May 2004 of cancer just short of his 56th birthday.

And her story began. CBS Sunday Morning reported:

Max Besler died, and that, Janis says, is when things started getting weird: Lights in her Sacramento home would flicker; clocks would stop at the moment Max died.

But then, on the anniversary date of his death, Janis was stunned by something she saw as she stood in her bathroom washing her hands.

“I looked up at the mirror and I saw a hand print,” she told Smith. “A perfectly formed, powdery hand print. Large, on the mirror. It was the right hand.”


As a hard-core skeptic it took Durham a whole lot of investigating and researching to be convinced that she was in touch with her departed husband.

There were other unexplained occurrences:

  • footprints
  • moved throw rugs
  • more handprints
  • flickering lights
  • clocks stopping exactly at Max’s time of death

handprint2Things have stopped now, but Durham is convinced she was in contact with her dead husband.

“I think Max was trying to tell me that there’s more to life than the physical form, the physical reality we live in. I’m not saying that these experiences made me feel less sad about the fact that Max lost his life at 56. But it makes me able to live with it better.”

As a skeptic, I’m not convinced, but I can keep an open mind when reading such books as The Hand on the Mirror.  If you’re capable of doing the same – or if you are a true believer in the possibility of communicating with the dead, then you will find this book very entertaining.


Take the advice from the author who writes in the introduction:

The most compelling motivation for writing The Hand on the Mirror was the potential to encourage people to talk openly about their experiences of communicating with a loved one after the loved one has passed. I also hope this book will provide readers with not only an emotional framework but also an intellectual foundation of legitimacy for those conversations. These discussions should be out in the open, free of constraint. As a society we could benefit from eliminating the stigma associated with sharing personal stories about the afterlife, including those that involve the supernatural, as mine do.

READ AN EXCERPT: From “The Hand on the Mirror” by Janis Heaphy Durham

For more info:

“The Hand on the Mirror: A True Story of Life Beyond Death” by Janis Heaphy Durham (Grand Central Publishing); Also available in eBook,Unabridged Audio Download, Unabridged Audio CD, and Large Print Hardcover formats


Like the book on Facebook

Follow Grand Central Publishing on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram


Related Posts with Thumbnails