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First smartphone, first email

For a long time after smart phones burst into our lives, I resisted getting one, feeling that my life was too complicated already. I finally got one, thinking that it might help to simplify things. I sent the first email to my very special person. I wrote "Hola guapo," hi handsome, and sent it off. I didn't hear back and was surprised. I checked my email. I saw that my "smart" phone, not recognizing the word "guapo" had corrected it, so the email went off as  "hola guano," Hi bird shit." My "smart" phone did not start making my life any less complicated.

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Expiration date

When I got old, too many times when I thought that I had recently purchased an item it turned out that I had bought it much earlier than I believed, and  it had expired. So now I mark the expiration dates with big, black letters on everything. Except on myself.

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Heaven, I'm in heaven,

And my heart beats so I can hardly speak,

I can't tell you how much happiness I feel,

When my C t scans show no metastasis



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Reaction to the Second Covid-19 Vaccine

Day One, the day of the Second Pfizer Vaccine. Massachusetts General Hospital was as amazingly efficient and fast as with the first vaccine. Again, the nurses were a beautiful, cheerful and attentive crew, so it was actually a very pleasant experience! Or it could be that after a year of seclusion anything happening outside my house feels like stepping out to dance with Fred Astaire...
The cordial nurse assigned to me asked,"do I have your permission to give you the shot?" I was tempted to say, "No. I came because it's free and to get away from my family," but I said, "of course." She told me that in a few hours, in addition to the sore site of the shot, I might have muscle aches, and/or a headache and feel tired, but won't have fever. Maybe because of my age? She asked if I can take Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I said I can, but I won't.
I left feeling elated. From what I've read, this will be a win-win situation. If I feel terrible it'll mean my immune system is strong. If I feel fine, well, I'll feel fine. Back at home, I celebrated with some hot chocolate and sourdough, whole wheat toast with avocado. Yes, sometimes life is a sunny beach. Soon the spot of the vaccine got sore, the same as with the first shot, or a regular flu shot.


Day Two. I woke up with a slight headache, tired, grumpy, with belly discomfort and chills. For breakfast I could only take a cup of tea. I felt tired, had occasional, short bouts of a mild headache and chills with goose pimples. Normally a hypochondriac, I regularly took my temperature: no fever. I ate a bland diet and slacked off on most duties. I don't take naps, but by the afternoon I was so sleepy I had to go to bed. I slept two hours. The rest of the day was the same.


Day Three. Felt less tired, had occasional bouts of discomfort, mostly chills, even when the temperature was 84 F under a sunny glass ceiling. By evening I was feeling better.


Day four. My energy is back, feel well, and thrilled and thankful, almost to tears, to be vaccinated. As for my immune system, I did get a reaction, but was not terribly ill, as it evidently happen to some young people. No doubt we'll know more about the subject in the next few weeks and months.


As for my post-vaccine, immediate future, I'll feel comfortable visiting with others two weeks after their second shot. Otherwise, I'll keep the same precautions. A dear friend died of Covid-19, and six people in my family got infected. I won't risk infecting someone else, or encourage some variant that might elude the vaccine protection. I'll end my seclusion and forgo masks and social distancing when Dr Fauci and other experts I trust say it's OK. One of the many advantages of old age, is that we have learned how to be self-sufficient about amusing ourselves and staying cheerful. If most people cooperate, this will be over very soon. Otherwise, good luck to us all.


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The source of wellbeing and happiness is not what life deals you, but how you handle what life deals you." Elena Castedo.

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The Inevitable: Death, Taxes and a Colonoscopy

I'm sure having a colonoscopy is a topic that you are eager to hear about, so I'll share my experience. (Sorry, I'm not providing an image).

I successfully put off having a colonoscopy until I was 64. After I had one I swore, NEVER AGAIN. What could be worse than the prep, the nausea, the regret for starting it all that lasts for an interminable two days?
Nearing ten years later, my doctor's office kept after me to make an appointment with the proctologist for another one, which I ignored. When pressed I said I'm "about to go out of town, will call you when I get back." After several yeas they caught on and made an appointment for a 45 minutes consultation. I showed up and told the receptionist, "Too bad the doctor wants to waste his time and mine, since I am not going to have a colonoscopy." When I came out of the meeting I told the receptionist, "I need to make an appointment for a colonoscopy." She was discreet as she laughed. The doctor convinced me that the risk of death by colon cancer was higher than the risk of death by the quart of magnesium, the gallon of the vile Colyte and the 2 laxative pills, plus the possibility of a rupture during the procedure.

This time I did my research and was prepared. (Of course, every doctor has a different set of instructions).
Before starting I placed next to the toilet:
The vile gallon of Colyte.
My cellphone to use the timer.
A bendable straw.
Half of a fresh lemon.
A pillow on top of the tank to rest my head if exhausted.
A small blanket to put over my legs. (a gallon of chilled liquid can make you very cold).
A heating pad to put over my abused innards, which I found soothing.
A box of alcohol-free baby wipes (MUST be alcohol free, believe me, your asshole will thank you).
My laptop and cellphone. (making sure it's not recording a video).
Some reading material.

I drank each glass of the vile Colyte through the straw with the bent part over my tongue, so the liquid went down bypassing a good portion of my tongue.
At the same time, while I drank, I held the half lemon under my nose and kept telling my brain I was drinking lemonade. What do you know, it bought it! No nausea, no discomfort!
(I've always had serious doubts about my brain's intelligence, but sometimes its gullibility comes handy).
After finishing each glass I set the timer for 15 minutes and read or wrote until it rang for the next glass.
It took 3 1/2 hours to drink the gallon. My guts kept going down the toilet like water, literally. However, I didn't have to rush to the toilet, I was on it, warm and cozy, and engaged, which made the time go faster.

After I had spilled out everything possible I returned all my aids to their proper places and went down to the kitchen to fix dinner for my husband. I worked on house chores until my normal bedtime, and took the 2 laxative pills with plenty of water, as instructed.
Piece of cake.

Alas, this doesn't have a happy ending. During my previous colonoscopy I had requested minimum anesthesia and I was fine after it was over. Unfortunately, for this procedure I forgot to request the same, and the anesthesiologist must have pumped enough anesthesia for an 180 pounder and I weighed 110 lbs. I got very sick after it was over, vomiting for several hours in the hospital's post-operative room. The nurses refused to give me anything to stop throwing up. Finally, disregarding their advice, I went home armed with a barf tray. At home I chewed some ginger candy with crushed ice and the vomiting stopped.

Advice: before you have a colonoscopy remember to request the amount of anesthesia you want.

The cheerful thought is that we are lucky to have only one colon.


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Article published in Chile's main internet newspaper, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the rescue of 2,200 refugees of the Spanish Civil War given asylum in Chile in 1939. A testimony from one of the survivors, me.

In Spanish


To read article press link "80 YEARS OF GRATITUDE" at the bottom of the left colum. 



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Jamestown was taught to generations of school children in the US in a manner that many got the impression that it was the first European colony in what is now the United States. Perhaps at some point enlightened teachers mentioned that Saint Augustine in Florida was actually older, but it was hardly given much coverage. The impression that the first European language spoken in the US was English lingered. This has been used as an argument at times in US history to enforce policies that caused great distress in some population groups, a subject to discuss some other time. The historical fact is that the first European colony in the US was Spanish, and it was not Saint Augustine. The first European language spoken in the United States was Spanish.

Nearly a century before Jamestown, the Spanish lawyer and judge Lucas Vazquez Ayllón went up and down the Atlantic coast of what is now the US looking for a suitable place for a colony. Later, he and a group of Spaniards explored the area where, 82 years later, Jamestown was to exist, but did not start a colony there. Instead, in 1526, he and 600 Spaniards chose a site near present day Georgetown, South Carolina, to establish San Miguel de Gualdape. Some documents call it San Miguel de Guadalupe. This sizable colony was established 81 years before Jamestown, which had 104 colonists, and almost half a century before the failed attempt at Roanoke.

Just as it would happen much later at Jamestown, the Spanish settlers of San Miguel de Guadalpe endured much suffering. More died than survived the first winter, due to hunger, disease, infighting, Indian attacks and other disasters. Vazquez Ayllón himself fell ill and died. Just as the English survivors of Jamestown did much later, the surviving Spaniards of San Miguel de Gualdape abandoned the colony.

Another historical event amply taught in the US for generations has been that of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth. Again, many students got the impression that it was the first European settlement that has survived till today. The first settlement in the US that has survived till today is Saint Augustine that was settled by Spaniards more than half a century before Plymouth, in 1565.

Who knows when schools in the US will teach that San Miguel de Gualdape was the first European settlement in the US, and that those colonists spoke Spanish, not English.


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