Primero De Septiembre – Ode to Venezuela



Caracas 2015

Friend of the blog, Maria V Agelvis, Mari as I affectionately call her, shares her poignant and yet hopeful poem…amazing how one can leave home but it never leaves you.


Entre nervios hoy escribo,

aquello que pienso y no digo


A donde fuimos? presentes y distantes

Venezuela Hermosa y Unida, te quiero así ahora, como eras antes


Malandros, burgueses, opositores y chavistas

Basta ya de divisiones y de discursos populistas

Cuando veremos que el “rolo e’ vivo” no es más que un oportunista


Mientras tanto aprendo que el cambio viene de adentro



Que cosas valoramos? Que nos pone contentos?

Joropos, aguinaldos, tradiciones y gaitas

Tripones en el colegio en actos con alpargatas

Chamos viendo el amanecer entre panas y pepitos

Es que extrañar a Venezuela es mango bajito


Los Roques, el Salto Ángel y el ruminate Orinoco

Los llanos, Mérida Y Margarita son apenas unos pocos

De los paisajes naturales que Venezuela comprende

Es que hablando de mi país, uno se pica y se extiende


Y al describir una tierra, cómo no hablar de su gente

Con panas, compinches y costillas: Quien no la pasa excelente?

En la casa o en la calle de nada se forma una rumba,

Con aguardiente, Polar o Zulia, Hasta el arrocero se encurda


Mari’s Sister in El Hatillo 2012

Aquellos que han degustado una reina pepiada

Los tequeños, las cachapas  o de gallina la ensalada

Sabe que mis recuerdos no son ningunas bobadas

Mucho menos si incluimos pabellones y empanadas


Es un baúl lleno de cuentos, comidas y música divina

pero es que quien no mueve los pies oyendo Caballo Viejo o Madera Fina?


Choroni 2009


Barquisimeto 2016

Asi es la Venezuela que admiro y añoro

No me importa sonar cursi pues, es la tierra que adoro

Y aunque mi cuerpo hoy día está en otro lugar

El guayabo por mi país no se los puedo ocultar


Sueño con un futuro con medicinas, seguridad y alimentos

Con paz, libertad y casa de nuevos talentos

Construyendo nuevas memorias para aquellos que están adentro

Y para todos los que llevamos el tricolor en nuestro pensamiento.


Seamos Maracuchos, Caraqueños, Barquisimetanos

Margariteños, Andinos, Llaneros o Amazonianos

Juntos debemos pensar:

Naguará mi Venezuela, como te recuperamos?

– Maria V Agelvis




Parque Nacional Mochima 2016


What to listen to in the car! TED Talk Recs for Improving your Communication

So it seems I am getting older for pop radio. I really never thought this would happen. I am one of those people who never, ever gets tired of a song I love. I can listen on repeat and fashion myself on American Idol as I belt out whatever tune is in vogue. At times I feel bad for my daughter, as she is my prisoner/ captive audience for my impromptu performances. However, these days I have caught myself thinking it is always the same three songs on the radio. Then, I put on Pandora or watch out, pop in a CD and take myself back to 90’s hip hop, Marc Anthony (past and present), Foo Fighters or my Mariah Carey station. Don’t knock it; I have liked and unliked my way to the optimal Pandora song list for her station.

With not enough hours in the day, however, when I feel intellectual and want to optimize my time in the car, I listen to TED Talks or other podcasts. Hello Serial Season 1!

***Below are D & D’s TED Talk Recommendations for improving your communication.


1.Economist Tyler Cowen discusses the innate human need to tell and to organize one’s life around stories. As a person who loves the act of storytelling in almost any genre, I was compelled to rethink how we organize our lives through the comforting yet limiting standard plot lines. He maps out the pitfalls of narrating one’s life versus the scary yet more honest messiness that is living.

2. Robert Waldinger is the fourth Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development which is a 75-year-old study, following about 600 men throughout their adult life. Along with archiving personal, medical and professional statistics, they have focused on how to measure happiness and fulfillment. One major take away is that happiness is directly linked to the quality of the relationships one nurtures. In an age where we want more likes and hearts, a high quantity of casual connections, this talk refocuses priorities to the qualitative aspect of our relationships.


3. A talk everyone needs to listen to. Celeste Headlee on 10 Ways to improve your conversations.




FM Book Review – May is for Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day to all. We just wanted to share Family Magazine’s recent book review sponsored by childrens_trust_logoWEB

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation

by Edwidge Danticat, illustrations by Leslie Staub

BOOKNightingale            Saya’s Haitian mother is in jail because the “immigration police” arrested her at work. Papa writes letters to judges, the mayor and congresswoman, and newspapers and TV reporters. But, no one writes back. Every week Saya and Papa visit Mama “at Sunshine Correctional, a prison for women without papers.”

Saya loves the Haitian stories her Mama tells her about the beautiful wosiyol, a nightingale with a sweet song (also Saya’s nickname). She misses Mama deeply. And, there is some comfort for Saya when cassette tapes come in the mail. She can listen to Mama’s voice telling stories and singing the nightingale’s song.

After one sad time, Saya writes a story herself, to help relieve her sadness. When Papa mails what she has written, a newspaper reporter prints Saya’s story for people to read. As a result, others get involved, helping to change this family’s story.

Bright oil paintings convey a sense of island culture. Also, folk art touches – like blue and pink nightingales – easily combine dream symbols with images from daily life. And, the expressive face of Saya’s stuffed animal, a monkey, both comforts and accompanies her.

Miami author Danticat was herself an immigrant from Haiti as a child. She writes with tenderness and conviction of a family torn apart because of a need for “the right papers,” as Saya calls them. This is an important immigrant story for our time.

Dial, $17.99 Interest Level: Grade 1-3  (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Library, Doral, Edison, Lemon City, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional, Opa Locka, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Patrick Benson

BOOKSsoon            Raju, a baby elephant and his mother, begin an adventure when the morning is still dark and cold. His repeated question (different from the familiar, “Are we there yet?), “When can we go home again?” receives a patient response from his mother, “Soon.”

Along this journey they encounter danger. First, they meet snapping crocodiles. Then, a snake comes slithering. And later, a prowling tiger roars toward them. Raju’s mother, however, knows exactly how to keep her little one safe. She “stamped her feet so hard, it made the ground tremble,” and she “blew her trunk so hard, it made the trees shake,” and finally she “reared up so high, she was as big as a giant.”

When they come to the mountain, his mother tells Raju to hold on to her tail. At the top, the two share the beautiful view.

Watercolor illustrations show sun-washed details. Face and body expressions are expertly matched with skillfully written text. Together, carefully crafted paintings smoothly blend the rhythmic flow of language with the subtle emphasis of repetitive phrases.

Although the young elephant is tired and his feet hurt after returning home at dusk, Raju asks, “When can we do it all again?” Even the youngest children will know the answer.

Candlewick Press, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-School – Grade 1 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: West Dade Regional, West End Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


by Sandra J. Howatt, illustrated by Joyce Wan

BOOKsleepyheads            A crescent moon anchors both the story and each picture in this beautiful bedtime book. Illustrations with rounded shapes curve and comfort in seamless combination, with reassuring “s” sounds to lull little ones asleep.

Rhyming text steers readers through the moon-bright night. The featured animals are never named. But each one is called a “sleepyhead.” Such repetition quietly leads the child to name the creatures that inhabit this snuggly storybook.

The pencil illustrations are colored digitally and, while it is nighttime, the darkness is warm and welcoming, not scary. The gentle invitation to “Look!” is used again and again. And, the light from stars and/or fireflies lights up each open page spread. It’s a comforting reminder that creatures and people all sleep under the same sky.

After following the rhymes and finding all the little ones “in houses and in barns,” the one still missing is “asleep in Mama’s arms!”

Beach Lane, $16.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 1

(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Library, Culmer Overtown, Doral, Edison, Lemon City, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Other great choices:

Henry Finds His Word

by Lindsay Ward

Dial, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-School – Kindergarten (This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

BOOKmonsterMonster Mama

by Liz Rosenberg, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Philomel, Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Doral, North Dade Regional, West End Regional.)

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