Category Archives: Uncategorized

1, 2, 3, …

Here is a snapshot of what I love and all those I love in my little peace of imperfect earthly heaven.

“The soccer ball was an éxito total!”  Javier blurted out as soon as he was next in cue. I had not seen him since 8am, had not talked to him. He had just arrived home with the other half of the family, Olaia and Jim.  As our kids come in they usually begin a frantic free for all telling me all sorts of stories about their day. They wait in cue. Waiting for the 3 seconds break that lets them know there is a lull in the conversation and permission to take over the floor and start their story.  This does not always work seamlessly, there are times siblings cry out “I am not done yet! I was taking a breath or composing my thoughts!” But for the most part, it is the law of the land.  Ruthless, straightforward, passionate and not for the faint of heart nor those who are entertained by platitudes, pleasantries and light chit chat. Continue reading 1, 2, 3, …

La bendición de un cielo estrellado

My neighbor informed us their grandmother had suffered a heart attack, I imagined their two young boys might need some looking after as the family gathered and tended to the difficult days ahead. I was moved by all the questions I imagined their youngest child might have and forth came bad poetry like a river bursting through a damn of “I know better” but nonetheless… the spirit moved me and I wrote it down.

I am painfully aware I am no Shakespeare, but it is fun to feels to be compelled to write and have funny rhymey verse spew forth.  Ahhh bad poetry, gobs of emotion, they keep me human and keep me humble.

Continue reading La bendición de un cielo estrellado

Summer of Fun: Realworld Minecraft

“Mami, realworld minecraft is way more difficult and tiring.”

All the boys enjoy playing with MInecraft, watching Minecraft videos, and building their future homes and worlds. As we cannot always hang out together, a little of alone playtime with video games is part of the Summer menu.  The kids show us their creations and their favorite videos, but the best part of hanging out together is the sobremesa or tertulia discussion about what they are doing and “learning”.

My favorite learning moment was Jim’s outdoor activity for the kids: “let’s go build a wall”. From their Minecraft point of view it sounded FUN, it sounded do-able. I was excited to see THAT project.  The instructions were simple.

  1. Weed garden
  2. Till and prepare the soil.
  3. Make a bed of gravel
  4. Move rocks from pile to a clean line on the terrain. Larger rocks on the bottom.

Two hours later we had a partial old-fahioned wall construction. The lesson of the day was the realization Javier had, which started this entry.

The next day, Javier started telling his father about his “great diamond axe” how it was the best because it was the strongest…. which became an invitation to discuss the actual properties of diamond, steel and other materials. They talked about hardness and strength and how they are not the same and why we do not make axes out of diamonds. Yes Minecraft is cool, Minecraft is fun , but Minecraft is far from a science textbook and realworld building.

Summer of Family Fun: Parque Lineal

We have been waking up and going to the Parque Lineal de Bayamón. Jim has found a good manageable out of the house routine that makes it easier for a family of six to go out and have some fun. Two young kid bikes go in the trunk of the van, one adult bike (used to be mine, now is Jaimito’s) on a bike rack. Jim brings his rollerblades and Olaia and I jog. We all roughly hang out.

Jim’s rollerblading is about the speed of Javier and Asier’s wpid-20150608_072313.jpgbiking, Jaimito is on his own a bit, but waits for his Dad to practice doing dips on parallel bars. Olaia and I start together, we talk, we plan, we start and then she is pretty much on her own as I lag behind. We all head out 20 minutes and come back. Though we do different things, the sites are the same, and we all come back to chat, stretch, do some more exercises, drink water and exchange stories of our “work out session”. The time together outside is priceless.


Summer of Family Fun

This Summer we have decided to have a home based camp.  Jim and I still have to work, but the work load lessens and we can make time to do other things as a family.  Jim has been in charge of the the outdoor activities. I have taken it upon myself to do the art projects. Here are some highlights of things done and planned for the near future.

Inspiration, Like Love, is Contagious

I love seeing what my kids create these days and just like as babies their love empowered me and gave me peice, these days their ideas, inspire me.  Here is a poem written by Olaia O’Malley for a school project. The requirement was to write a poem about “being cool.”

“Cool Enough”

I thought I was real cool.
But-  I’m an alien race
living in outer space
just trying to make them not hate.
Just getting by, but –
not dark enough, not white enough.
Stuck in the middle.
stuck with a riddle.
Cool, but not cool enough.

I totally enjoy the rhythm and the message. She read it to me and I almost could here music in the backround. I wanted more, but it was short and sweet. She inspires me to write, to be more creative to… just do it!


Mi tesoro, Treasure lost and found

Over the past year I have been visiting schools reading a story I wrote and illustrated for a beloved local brand to school children. My story, “El Tesoro Escondido,” (“The Hidden Treasure) is not a work of art, it more of a tool to have somebody else besides the teacher and librarian talk about writing.  To my client and sponsor it is an excercise in engaging the community and becoming partners in education. For me yesterday, it was a path to living the story I tell. Continue reading Mi tesoro, Treasure lost and found

A message for the NON-Holy Friday Retreat

I know I am not the person you were expecting to hear from this morning. I am not attempting either to fill the shoes of he who is absent. Fr. Vega as you know has been on a slow path to recovery after being afflicted by a coincidence of maladies that befell him along with the chikungunya. We gathered around him when he turned 80 this past October and I, for one, saw the path to recovery quicken after the gathering. He was on his road to recovery when his heart became heavy with the departure of his dear friend, Dr. Payne. With time, Fr. Vega has come around again and was slowly easing back into teaching and giving mass. But he is not here with us today because just 2 days ago he was informed he had been transferred away from the Jesuit Residence to the St. Teresa de Jornet home that serves the destitute elderly population. This sudden change has left him shaken and speechless.

Just this past Sunday Father Vega had anticipated he would be talking to us about the words of Pope Francis. As I anticipated hearing his “Readers Digest” of Pope Francis and how he would tie it to the way of the cross, I found myself an observer in someone else’s pain and isolation. In this holiest of weeks the events of the past 72 hours made me reflect on how at different moments in life we may be called to or accidentally, unwittingly .play different roles in someone’s agony.

Please do not take my words as an exposition of theology, but as an invitation to reflect. I am not equating Christ’s passion to our own, his sacrifice won us the Heavens. But in the lower plain of mere ever sinning humans striving to live according to our faith? Have you ever witnessed someone be crucified for doing what they thought was right? Maybe they were fired from a job for tattling or standing up for what they thought was right. Maybe you know someone who was evicted because their medical bills they chose to pay saved a life and cost them their home. Maybe you know someone who has lived serving others and when the tides changed and it was not convenient they who were cherished were denounced, ignored, betrayed and left alone. I have lived perhaps half a life, but I can see faces for each one of those stories. I see people carrying crosses and being crucified publicly for sport and then it hits me…. when I see those walking alone carrying the cross. Who am I?

Am I Simon Cirene? Was I thrust, ordered to help the outcast? Is Simon’s help bearing the cross less meaningful because he was ordered? Or was his act gallant and kind, though not initially his choice? Am I like the women who when they were able to, they sneaked in between the crowd and gave Christ some comfort and let him know in his darkest hours they were solidary. Am I crying following in silence showing up in private when the deed is done, to bear witness and make my love be known. Where am I? Am I the centurian who like Vonn shared in his reflection, the centurian that followed protocol, thinking he was righteous, and did not see til it was too late that Jesus was the Son of God. Are my convictions turned inside out upon bearing witness to someone else’s cross. Or perhaps the cross has been your own, and you can find the comfort of knowing that before you he walked and like you knows the loneliness and sting of betrayal, and through the Grace of the Holy Spirit also hold fast to the joys of love resurrected.

Up to now I have mentioned crosses like crossroads, moments, actions, choices that had dramatic repercussions. But what if the cross were not a choice, but the result of the natural course of life and modernity. It would be a cross you could not refuse and one we would hopefully all meet in old age.

Quoting Pope Francis “the future of society is rooted in the elderly and young people. The latter, because they have the strength and are of the age to be able to bring the story forward. The former, because they are the living memory. A people that does not take of its elderly and children and youth has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.” Pope Francis on Thursday sent a message for the participants of the 47th Social Week for Italian Catholics, which will be held from September 12 – 15, 2013 in Turin, Italy.

A month later, Pope Francis speaking at the 21 plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Family said, “Children and the elderly represent the two poles of life and also the most vulnerable, the most often forgotten… A society that abandons children and that marginalizes the elderly will sever its roots and dark future,” he said.

More recently, just last month he added, “A society where the elderly are discarded carries within it the virus of death”.

In short, it seems to me that the timeless truths in the Passion of Christ still echo in our modern experience. Sometimes we hear echoes of the crucifixion in an unjust turn of events, or in the alienation and desperation of another human being, and then there is the inevitable challenge of old age and the Pope’s invitation to not abandon them when they are vulnerable.

The story may not be repeated note by note, but there is a glimpse here and there that serves as an invitation to remember, reflect and choose to make your story, your choice informed by faith.

And as we ponder the story of the death on the cross of our Savior, I wish to remind you to relive your youth and reclaim your actions, because we are called to be a people of hope, hope as it is embodied in our young, hope that love will triumph. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! What ever you choose to do, be a vessel for love, be a messenger of hope and God willing we will see each other on Easter Sunday.

Un café ciego, tostadas con queso y la tertulia mañanera del cafetín

Tal y como me lo describió Tito, el simpático dueño del negocio, son las 7:30 de la mañana y el colmadito-cafetín contiguo a la plaza comienza a llenarse de los personajes de todos los días. Se reúnen a desayunar como si fuera un baile espontáneo y a su vez todos conocen los pasos en la coreografía. Entre los que están se tiran burlas, se ofenden, comparten sus comentarios no solicitados, y entre cosa y cosa, intercambian noticias, contestan preguntas, desayunan y se van.

Una mujer joven entra con su niño de camino a la escuela. Tito pregunta: “¿Cual quieres?” La joven madre le acababa de hacer un gesto indicando que quería un periódico pero al recibir la pregunta se distrae, y pregunta de vuelta a Tito “¿qué hora es?” Tito le responde, con otra pregunta “¿La hora? Son como las 7:30am.” Nuevamente, lista retoma su pedido: “dame un nuevo día y media libra de pan.”

Antes de ir a pagar, gira rápidamente a su derecha, alcanza unas lascas de queso de bola y procede a la otra esquina del mostrador donde está la caja registradora. La caja registradora, el abanico que sopla detrás del mostrador, dejan entrever que la última renovación del lugar fue para los 1980.

Sale la joven madre con su hijo, y entra Don Vito, el billetero de la esquina, un señor ya mayor vistiendo una guayabera blanca ligera de manga corta y pantalones de vestir marrón oscuro.

“Una avena y un café, si me hace el favor” le dice a Tito.

Al ratito entran dos miembros del gimnasio que queda más abajo en la misma calle. Están en su ropa deportiva que deja al aire libre los molleros de sus corpulentos brazos. Uno le dice a Tito: “Me tienen a dieta hoy.” Tito interpreta esto como una orden de desayuno y le responde “¿quieres un café ciego?” El café del colmado-cafetín al igual que los pastelillos estaba listo desde temprano esperando a los clientes. “¿Quieres dieta o regular?” le pregunta Tito antes de entregar el café. La contestación sobre el endulzador del café se pierde porque el lugar se queda preñado de expectativa ante la llegada de Doña Zuly.

Doña Zuly es una señora retirada de unos 80 años, jocosa y de difícil carácter que a menudo viene buscando pelea y la encuentre o no, siempre entretiene. Hoy su compañera en el tango mañanero no ha llegado a tiempo, y es que Doña Zuly es estadista y Doña Cuca es popular, ambas de clavo pasa’o o del corazón del rollo, lo que es decir con pasión y locura. Viste una falda azul y una blusa colorida, que no disimulan su sobrepeso.

Entra Doña Zuly a toda boca, hablándole a las personas reunidas en el colmadito para desayunar: “Mira, ayer éste (señala a Jimmy) ese mismo estaba en el mismo medio y la gente tocando”

Jimmy, le contesta la queja en broma, “Pa eso soy popular!”

Don Vito, con todo manso le aclara a Doña Zuly: “Ay mami, son populares ahora, no vengas con eso ahora.”

Doña Zuly, rápido recoge la puya dejada por Jimmy y Don Vito y comienza una pequeña descarga contra los populares pero no sin antes aclarar los detalles de la celebración pública que se avecina.

“Una cosa,” comienza a decir Doña Zuly, Continue reading Un café ciego, tostadas con queso y la tertulia mañanera del cafetín