Cuando Leí Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosofál

Soy casi-bilingüe.  Es la verdad.  Si necesito completar una aplicación, siempre escribo “bilingüe.”  Pero, no soy bilingüe.  Soy ingléshablante.  El español es mi segundo idioma.

For those of you who read this blog consistently and are staring at this page blankly because you don’t know Spanish, consider this a challenge.  How many words can you find that you can recognize because they are almost the same in English?!  As you may or may not know, they are called cognates.  Feel free to list them below.  Your prize is you get a shout-out in my next blog post.  No cheating.

Para la gente que lee este blog consistentemente, y habla español, también es un reto. Uds. pueden buscar mis errores.  Pero no es obligatorio decirme que los encontraron.

He leído Las Obras Completas de Gustavo Adolfo Béquer en español.  He leído obras de Cervantes en español.  Pero una experiencia nueva para mi era leer Harry Potter en español.

Cuando yo estaba enseñando español en el colegio en donde ahora enseño ESL, mis estudiantes tenían que aprender leer en español.  Pero, no lo querían.  Fue como una forma de tortura.

Hasta el día que compré Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosofál.  Es el primer libro en el serie de Harry Potter, y lo primero que leí yo.

Estaba en trance.  Empecé a las 3 de la tarde y terminé a las 4:30 en la mañana.  Sin dormir.

No sé si a mis estudiantes les gustaban leer algunas partes de este libro con entusiasmo como yo.   Para mi fue algo maravilloso.

¿Y la cosa más divertida?  La gente que son humanos ¨normales¨ se llaman ¨muggles.¨ Porque estaba leyéndolo en español, la pronunciación en mi mente fue en español. Como ¨múgles.¨ Ahora digo mugles en vez de muggles en inglés 50% del tiempo.

Mi amorío con los cuentos de Harry Potter empezó en español y terminó en inglés.  Lo mejor de los dos mundos.

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A Beautiful Start to April

At you will meet a friend-in-real-life of mine and enjoy his poetry, hiking posts and photos. This one is so fabulous that I had to reblog it here. Enjoy!

The Zen Hiker

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day.”

-Robert Frost


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When My Brother Was The Babysitter

At 14, 15, 16, my brother was a man to me.  Because I was 7,8 and 9 then.  He was my hero and my idol.  He teased me unmercifully and I followed him around the house like an annoying puppy.  I was particularly bothersome when he had a friend over and I could knock on his door over and over until he yelled at me.

We had this magically repeated event when Andy became THE BABYSITTER.

It has just this very minute occurred to me to wonder if he got paid to do this.  I hope so. He deserved it.

Even with the age difference, we liked to do some things together that probably made it less hellish for him.  We both read and he could probably push me into the other room with a book and I’d leave him alone for a while.

Parcheesi, photo from Board Games Rule

We both liked to play board games and cards, which were a staple in our home. My favorite was Parcheesi.  If he didn’t want to play with me I would have stuffed animals be the other 3 players and would take their turns for them, carefully keeping score on a notepad to see who would win.

One night, Andy was ignoring me completely.  I don’t remember what he was doing, but brat that I was I decided to get him in trouble.  Hmmm……what could I do, what could I do.

A hah!!  I thought of the perfect thing.  I would cut my hair.

This is what my hair looked like before I cut it.  Notice the Parcheesi game on top of the pile of games on the shelf next to me.

Barb knitting

Now picture this.  That’s my 7-year-old self with already shortish hair.  That night, the night-I-was-being-ignored, I went into the bathroom, gathered my hair on top of my head, and cut away.

When I looked in the mirror I knew for sure that he would be in sooooo much trouble.

I remember gleefully running up to him.  I probably stuck out my tongue.  He yelled at me.

What I hadn’t taken into consideration was what I would actually look like.  I never wanted to go to school again.  I got into trouble; he did not.

It took him two years to seek revenge, but he came up with a masterful idea.

I think I was 9 years old when the movie Psycho came out on TV.  Andy and I were sitting on our love seat in the den watching my first scary movie.  I was leaning forward mesmerized and terrified.  My brother had his arm resting behind me, with his hand in a claw-like position, waiting for me to lean back.

Psycho Photo by

We got to the shower scene and I threw myself backwards, right into my brother’s claw.  I screamed and then cried.  He got his revenge and probably felt a little guilty.  You never know with older brothers, though.  He was always awesome with me.  But teasing little sisters is in the DNA of older brothers.


My parents had a strict bedtime for me.  Like crazy strict.  When I was in high school I had to be in bed by 9:00.  In 12th grade it was 9:30.  I snuck out of the house on the weekends.

But in the days when my brother was babysitting me, it was a lot earlier.  He would have friends over which was a big no-no when he was in charge of me.  I wanted to hang out with them and not go to bed.  They wanted to drink beer.

So he came up with a full-proof plan.  I had to be in my nightgown with my covers turned down.  I could stay up until we heard my parents car coming in the driveway. Then I would race upstairs and jump into bed, pretending to be asleep.  My side of the bargain was that I wouldn’t rat him out.

My brother was the best babysitter ever.

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WOW !!!!!!

I was so happy that in January that I was asked to be interviewed for Discover.   And ecstatic when it was published on March 16, 2017.

Then, scrolling through Instagram today, I see this….


After I screamed and my husband resuscitated me (and, yes, his ears are still ringing), I took a screenshot and sent it to everyone I’ve ever said hi to.

Then I checked Twitter.

If I ever, and I mean EVER, complain about blogging just slap me.  Preferably verbally.

Thank you all for your support of my blog, but most of all, for your support of my journey in, and with, sobriety.

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Old Wives’ Tales

Old Wives’ Tales that my mother was right about:

1. When your joints hurt it’s going to rain.  I remember rolling my eyes when she said that.  Until I had shoulder surgery and the Physical Therapist told me that my shoulder would bother me more when it was going to rain.  “You’re kidding.  I thought that was an old wives’ tale.”  The PT then told me it was caused by the change in barometric pressure.

2.  Don’t put metal in the toaster.  I don’t think she ever told me that until after I put a knife in the toaster to get out a stuck piece of toast.  I thought someone punched me in the back and then I fell against the refrigerator.  That’s when she said Don’t put metal in the toaster.  In my defense I was only like 8 years old.

3.  Chicken soup is a cure for the cold.  I looked this one up.  I read in Reader’s Digest online magazine that scientists believe that it can help lessen inflammation in the lungs by lowering white blood cells.  Plus it is soothing and I consider it “comfort food.”


Old Wives’ Tales that my mother wasn’t right about:

1.  A girl/woman can’t bathe/shower if she has her period.  Don’t worry, I always went to a friend’s house to shower.

2. No dental appointments when you have your period.  Well, it sounded dopey to me, but I was all for putting off going to the dentist.

3.  If you cross your eyes they’ll get stuck that way.  Ummmm………that would be a no, Mom.

4.  Don’t go outside with wet hair or you’ll get a cold.  Not true.  And maybe that’s why I always go outside with wet hair.   Middle age rebellion.


Oops.  I have to go.  A black cat is coming.

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This Is A Real Question

How do fellow writers out there have time to work on writing a book or getting it ready for publishing, keeping the blog that they love up-to-date, working and doing all other life things?

I’m at the AAAUUUGGGHHH stage.  Too tired after work to write, too useless at 4am if I try to write before work.  Waiting for summer vacation is doable, but I can’t “hold that thought” forever.

I completely understand that nothing may happen with my project, so I’m not being arrogant here.  Just trying to make it happen.

Any advice?

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Drive Slow?


The sign is crooked because I had to stand in the snow to take the photo.

This sign drives me crazy.

As soon as I see DRIVE SLOW, I wonder do they want me to drive slowly?  Or does the condo complex want me to drive like a moron?

We know what they mean, but would it really be that hard to add -ly?  Before you reach for Google or for your style manuals, I’ll admit it up front. Slow, more commonly used as an adjective, can be an adverb to describe how an action is taken. But it still sounds really stupid grammatically incorrect when used as an adverb.

Plus, DRIVE SLOW is a command.  As if I’m not already driving slowly.  So annoying.

What do you think of the picture?  I realize that we have been seeing this picture since…..1920 or so? Oh that’s right, we weren’t alive then.  Isn’t it time to update the picture?  If I showed that to my 5-year-old grandson, he would probably ask why the kid is running and patting the letter O.  And why his finger is so long.

Not to mention that he doesn’t look like a kid.  And does he have shoes?  And aren’t girls playing too? And kids of all ethnic backgrounds?

Or just maroon and white kids?

Here’s another question for you.  When was the last time that you drove past a park and said “Oh look at all the children at play!”

Children at play.  *sigh*   My kids are out playing.

And I’m driving slowly.


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Yes! I’m A Neanderthal!

Barb Knowles’ Neanderthal Percentage from The Genographic Project


My dearest goal has been reached.  As you all know, one of my biggest, oddest dreams is to have Neanderthal DNA.  I just think that it is so very, very cool.  Yes, it’s a tiny percentage. Just 1.5%.  But it’s a tiny bit bigger than the average tiny bit in this project.

What does this mean?  Besides the obvious, that I’m wicked cool.

According the National Geographic Genographic Project, “As our modern human ancestors migrated through Eurasia, they met other hominin species and interbred. These “cousin” species, like the Neanderthals, are now extinct, but the genetic makeup of nearly everyone born outside of Africa today includes 1 to 2 percent DNA from these hominins, living relics of ancient encounters.”

Therefore, as far as Neanderthal DNA goes, I’m not unique.

I am an imp, though.

I want to go back in time and tell Cotton Mather, my 1st cousin, 10x removed, that he has Neanderthal DNA.  How would that have played in Massachusetts?

This Neanderthal Anglo-Saxon wants to get an ax, go to her hut and build a fire.

My goal has been achieved.

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Harry Potter Saved Me

One of the hardest things I’ve done as a mother is to drop my son off at college his freshmen year.  I was so proud of him.  And he was only going to be a 3+ hour drive away.

I went hysterical.

My husband, who knows me very well plus has a knack for self-preservation, thought this might be rough for me, so he planned for us to drop my son off at SUNY Delhi and then continue on to Niagara Falls.

For all my Canadian peeps…..EVERYONE in the US knows your side is much better, and cleaner, than ours.

I didn’t want my son to see me crying, or depressed, so I was keeping a stiff upper lip as we helped him get acclimated, checked the school out a little and then got out of his way.  He was so excited/nervous, the same way I felt when I first left for college.  He was ready to shoo me away.

He and I are very close and he’s my youngest.  His sisters did not move away and I knew this exciting time for him would be depressing for me.

I was really good until my husband and I got in the car to leave.  Before my husband turned on the car I started sobbing.  I mean sobbing.

Even I knew I was over the top.  Tons of you out there have gone through the same thing.  It’s about a family change.  As our children move to the next stage in life, so do we.  It takes an adjustment.  I was extremely fortunate because I did not have to endure a divorce at the same time, although I’m sure Tim was tempted.

I cried from Delhi, NY to Niagara Falls, Canada.  Tim was Job.  He suggested stopping to eat.  Sob.  Listening to the radio.  Sob.  Eventually he got a lawyer.  I’m kidding.  Finally, I picked up one of the Harry Potter books I had brought with me.  I had already read the first one, because I read it in Spanish, so I really remember that.  I think I brought #2,3,4 with me.

Reading Harry Potter got me through missing my son, staring the new era of our family life in the face, and being on vacation when I just wanted to cry.  It is incredibly embarrassing to think of how much I cried then.  Poor Tim.

We did do fun things in Niagara Falls.  Went to restaurants, took a ton of pictures, took the boat ride under the falls.  We went to gardens and just drove around.  And I cried and read.

We were probably gone a total of 4 days.  We had fun, but I was still really down in the dumps.  What saved me?

Harry Potter.  I finished 3 Harry Potter books in 4 days.  Total escapism.  Little sleep.  By the time we came home I was done with Harry Potter for a while, but was no longer so depressed.

I missed my son incredibly.  And then two weeks later he came home for the weekend to hang out with his friends.  I went hysterical and I was going to see him in two weeks?

Who knew?

Thank you, Harry Potter.

SUNY Delhi

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As I was in pre-op at our local hospital being prepped for cataract surgery, the nurse asked me “Do you have anything that comes out of your mouth?”  To which I immediately responded “Words.”

I felt clever when she told me that no one has ever given her that reply.  Then a little embarrassed when I realized that she meant dentures or retainers.

But I have a body filled with words.

Words pour out of my mouth, whether anyone wants to hear them or not.

Words pour out of my mouth, whether anyone wants to read them or not.

Words represent ideas and are unstoppable.

addiction, adhd. Alaska, alcoholism, ancestors, authors, awards, babies, baptism, bereavement, birth, BLOGGING, blogs, books, brothers, Canada, Catholicism, children, Christmas, culture, death, DNA,  Ecuador, editing, Education. English, ESL, facebook, families, family, fantasy, Game of Thrones, genealogy, genres, George RR Martin, girl scout cookies, grammar, grief, health, heaven, high school, history, HUMOR, kichwa, languages, life, lifestyle, literature, love, marriage, MEMOIR, memories, music, netflix, opinion, parenting, politics, prayer, reading, religion, Simon Winchester, sobriety, Spain, Spanish, students, teachers, TEACHING, technology, USA, vacations, Vermont, WEST POINT, WordPress, writing

Words pour out of my mouth.

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