Things that really confuse English Learners

Being a non-native English speaker myself I love it when I come across some word, phrase or sentence in English that I know would have confused the hell of me when I first started learning the language. Here is an example that I just shot a few days ago while picking up some fast food for lunch.

Duck If

I can see myself scratching my head and thinking, “They have some tall ducks here in America!”

Dancing with the angels

It is a fact well-known that dancing is good for the soul. I totally subscribe to this belief. I have been dancing since I was a toddler and no therapy in the world is more effective than a few turns around the dance floor.

My aunt Lucilia is a perfect example that dance is the cure for all evils. She had a tough life; born poor and prone to bouts of severe asthma. After marrying my uncle she gave birth to a baby girl. A couple years later they both got struck by a train. She survived, the baby didn’t. My cousin, the only boy in  a family of females, came next. He is just slightly younger than me and we grew up together, living across the street from each other. My aunt got pregnant many times after that. She lost the baby girls every time after carrying them to term. She cleaned the skyscraper she lived in, washing the marble stairs from ground to the tenth floor on her knees with a rag and a bucket. She also washed clothes for working people, ironed and did alterations and other sewing services to make extra money to keep her family fed. In her middle years she was abandoned by her husband and left alone to finish bringing up her teenage son. Through it all one thing kept her going; dancing.

She passed away a couple days ago from complications from an infection. She was 80 years old. She still cleaned her building every day. She still washed and ironed clothes for others. She still let out and hemmed pants. And to get her going without giving in to exhaustion or desperation she still went dancing every weekend.

I hadn’t seen her in a few years living on the other side of the pond as I do but I will always remember her as a dancer. No matter how exhausted, how drained she was she never, ever stopped dancing. In fact, I bet she is dancing with the angels right now.

Rest in peace tia Lucilia. May the afterlife be full of music and bailaricos* and may your pain be gone forever.

*dance party

Why Genre Writing Matters

I just read this blog this morning and man! does he voice a lot of my feelings and thoughts about reading and writing… enjoy .

Puckishwird's Blog


Yesterday i spent a long drive down to Burlington, Wisconsin to play a board game with some old friends. Now, by old, i mean we aren’t old. Older than we were, for sure. But time’s a funny thing. You don’t see it passing, it just does and one day you’re 40 and you haven’t seen those people you grew up with for 20 years or so, but even that time… weird though it is… evaporates as soon as you are in a basement with dice in your hand playing a board game. Just like you used to do.

But this isn’t really about that. Maybe i’ll hold that one off for later.

This is about the writer i heard on the news radio station i was listening to on the way down there. I don’t remember her name, but i can tell you she’s a shakespearean professor of english and…

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New authors, new books

Lately I have been trying new(er) authors and I have had some very nice surprises (and some bad, as well). I thought I would come and post some new books written by less-known authors. I haven’t read all of them so I can’t recommend them per se  (except for Reaper’s Girl and Royally Screwed. Different genres, both great reads) but just like I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the books I have read in the past few months maybe you will find a true gem among these. Happy reads!




The darkness was thick around her. In her small cocoon of candlelight, she sat on the cold hard floor, eyes lost in thought staring blindly at the candle. The wax oozed and pooled in the palm of her hand singeing her skin and yet, she didn’t blink, didn’t stir; it was the pain inside of her she felt, not the puny sting of hot wax in the sensitive skin of her fingers.

Her mind was in such turmoil, she couldn’t tell where the pain started and she ended. It was all entwined, pain enmeshed in her awareness, in a big ball of barbed wire, scraping and pulling at the edges of her sanity.

In her state of numbness (madness?) she looked at the melting candle and saw meanings, symbols for everything she was feeling, all that had somehow become her life. The darkness that surrounded her in itself held an ominous meaning, akin to the darkness in her heart at that moment, the bitterness that soured her thoughts, the desperation that caused her frightening thoughts and desires.

Where had everything gone wrong? She had been happy, really happy. From the depths of her aching heart she dug up memories of the happy child she had once been, loved and protected, full of dreams and hopes; memories of her as a young woman still innocent enough to believe that love healed all, that with the right attitude anything could be achieved, that happiness was a choice. Where had that woman go? Why hadn’t she taken her with her?

The pool of melted wax in her hand reminded her too much of all her own crushed dreams, her obliterated hopes; a giant blob of shapeless, useless matter lingering around and crusting over as it settled into its new shape. She felt a sob climbing up from deep within her.

`The candle was shriveling to a stub, an insignificant nothing much like her. She had wanted to be someone; not a star, not rich. Someone who made a difference in the world, however small. Someone respected and acknowledged. Yet, here she was much like the candle, small and inconsequential. Nothing she touched seemed to have left a mark of any significance. Her marriage had been a failure. Her career a disaster. Her children had grown up to be exactly the opposite of what she had hoped and strived for.

Memories took her back to high school, the least happy time in her childhood. There, she had been either bullied or invisible.  Sometimes both at the same time. She had thought – hoped- her adult years would be different. But the bullying never really stopped, it just changed its form. As an professional adult she was bullied by her boss and her colleagues. As a wife and a mother she was bullied and ignored by her spouse and her kids. Then bullied by those who are quick to dish out judgement. Even her friends bullied her one way or another. Nobody respected a doormat and that’s exactly what she had become. Her need to please and keep the peace was more often than not misconstrued as a weakness. Her friends thought her to be week and pliant and, in spite of often taking advantage of those characteristics themselves, dismissed her as a push-over.

The silence brought on for the lack of electricity was oppressive. As oppressive as her sense of isolation and loneliness. No-one really understood. No-one really cared.

Amidst it all, she was starting to believe it; she was beginning to think that she was indeed a weakling, a characterless human form that served no purpose, an extraneous existence. The candle in her hands wavered and danced. She longed to snuff it out, to snuff all of it out. To allow the darkness to take over everything, to take over her for good. End of story.

The lights flickered into existence again at that moment, inundating the space around her with brightness and color, snapping her off her dark reverie. The sob stuck somewhere in her chest was swallowed. She blinked, allowing her eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness and then she snuffed the flame out. Only the candle. This time.

The Garden

The garden was overgrown now. What had once been tidy and organized was now a mess of greenery and flowers growing in every direction, crawling up trees and stone walls, creeping along and across the pebble path, and sticking out from crevices and holes. It was chaotic and beautiful. Paradoxically, her penchant for order loved this garden and all its chaotic beauty.  The part of her personality that did not allow her the freedom to just let go had no control over the way the ivy invaded the garden or the way the purple thyme spread on the lawn wafting a delicious scent that mingled with the confusion of other wild perfumes in the air. And that suited her just fine!

She loved the lizards that skittered along the grass, fast as bullets, and the toads that sang in their deep voices under the shadow of the daisies and the gardenias; the magic flight of the butterflies sipping from the Princess Earring flowers like dancing fairies and the quiet buzzing of ladybugs’  fluttering wings. Sometimes a bunny or two would hop from behind the overgrown bushes with their tiny pink twitching noses. This was a magic world that was only hers and yet, did not belong to her at all, tangible and elusive all at the same time. That garden was like an extension of herself, a side of her that would not be controlled by her need for order and, therefore, a part of her that was at peace with the world.

At first, it had bothered her as she lost control of the weedy flowers and the rebellious creepers. But now sitting there in the middle of all confusion she was at peace. The garden spoke to her in a way that almost made her believe in a better world, a world of beauty and quietness, a world where all her worries and strife dissipated.  Her mind relaxed, her muscles softened and her life became bearable again. Hope flooded her whole being and for this alone she loved her overgrown garden, her refuge, her haven.