DENUNCIA (denouncement?)

The police report that the Barcelona police officer handed to the French bride was mostly bilingual (French/Spanish). The list of possible items stolen on the back of the ‘denuncia’, or police report, reminded her of vocabulary listed in tourist phrasebooks or beginner school manuals.

Check appropriate : Accessories, clothing, jewelry, camera…


¿Tengo cara de turista? This expression in Spanish means “do I look like a tourist?” It always reminds me of the risk travellers face: being cheated or robbed.

The French bride scoured the streets searching for clues. Meanwhile she followed the rules, filled out the denuncia for both the Barcelona police and French insurance company. She got the run-around everywhere. This extract from the manuscript of One Dress, One Day gives a hint of her experience.

“A city police officer passed in front of Uno’s usual place under an arch within the arcade on the edge of the plaza. With the officer was a half-dozen cadets carrying metal barricades designed to line the parade route.  Before they could do much, a young honey-blond lady rushed up asking for help in a nasal, accented Castilian. It all poured out:  her automobile had been moved or taken during the night; she and her husband were honeymooning here. She feared the worst:  thieves had stolen the car. Worse, they had got her wedding gown in the back.  The supervising officer put on a good show for his trainees. After all, tourism kept the Catalonian economy alive and the ’92 Olympic Games were coming. With a faint smile, he explained politely the denuncia claim the señora would have to make at the commissariat. He then muttered in Catalán that she was a dumb blond to leave exposed her valuables in a car, especially a Renault with French license plates.”


Pepe prays.

In One Dress, One Day, José (Pepe) craves a drink. 

“Despite the hour, he got up to brew his first espresso of the day. As he rinsed and wiped the heavy aluminum cafetera, Pepe poured his feelings out to the bird. Groggy, he still enjoyed a drag, but always without a drink. He had to stay sober because there were too many times that he could not remember what had happened. Alfonsa did remember, though.

The famous AA prayer hung painted on a plate in the narrow hallway between the bedroom and bathroom.”

The Serenity Prayer is the common name for a prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Niebuhr first wrote the prayer for a Massachussets sermon as early as 1934 and first published it in 1951 in a US magazine column. The prayer spread through Niebuhr’s sermons and church groups in the 1930s and 1940s and was adopted and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The prayer has appeared in many versions. The most well-known form is a late version, as it includes a reference to grace not found before 1951.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Another version: O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The earliest recorded reference to the prayer is a diary entry from 1932 by Winnifred Crane Wygal, a pupil and collaborator of Niebuhr. Wygal was a longtime YWCA official and all early recorded usages were from women involved in volunteer or educational activities connected to the YWCA. 

The earliest printed reference, in 1936, mentions that during a speech, a Miss Mildred Pinkerton “quotes the prayer,” as if to indicate it was already in a circulation known to the reporter, or that Pinkerton relayed it as a quote, without mentioning its authorship

NOTE: The prayer has also been falsely attributed to a variety of other authors.

Genuine precursors

EPICETUS, a Greek philosopher, wrote:

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.”

SOLOMON IBN GABIROL, an 11th-century Jewish philosopher wrote:

And they said: At the head of all understanding – is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.

The philosopher WW. BARTLEY juxtaposes Niebuhr’s prayer with a Mother Goose rhyme (1695) expressing a similar sentiment:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
Spurious attributions

Use by twelve-step recovery programs

The prayer became more widely known after being brought to the attention of AA in 1941 by an early member, who came upon it in a “routine New York Herald Tribune obit.” AA’s staff liked the prayer and had it printed in modified form and handed around. It has been part of the group’s personality ever since. Grapevine, The International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous, identified Niebuhr as the author (January 1950, pp. 6–7), and the AA web site continues to identify Niebuhr as the author.

A slightly different version of the prayer has been adopted by twelve-step groups:

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

It can be said by anyone of any denomination, almost any faith. The character Pepe has a copy hanging on a wall in his home.

Dios mío, concédeme


para aceptar las cosas que no puedo cambiar;


Para canbiar aquellas cosas que puedo ;

Y sabiduría

Para reconocer la diferencia

Lenten Acts

Lent, or Cuaresma, culminating in Semana Santa

The religious tradition of depriving one’s self of meat and possibly other favourite things (sweets, alcohol, sexual intercourse) extends across time and borders. Christians may prepare for Easter through Lent thus heightening their awareness of their faith and sacrifice.

Cuaresma is the Spanish term for the 40-day period ushered in as carnival (mardigras) ends, in other words, on Ash Wednesday, the day after ‘fat Tuesday’. 

One Dress, One Day evokes this spiritual act of preparation for Easter.

Reminder: this entire story takes place within 24 hours during Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Barcelona in 1990.

In the extract that follows, we experience the arrival of Uno, the blind lottery ticket seller, in his Asturian village farm.

“Nieves began bustling about the roomy kitchen with whatever leftovers could be found.  Plates, glasses, cutlery clattered as Nieves scurried and Mother barked orders. There was little variety in the menu because officially it was Lent; however, these were tough times, too. After the thick mustard-color cloth went down on the broad round table, Nieves laid out a crusty loaf, a ball of typical Cabrales cheese and a reheated fabada made of well-stewed fava beans.”

In terms of other appetites among other characters, there seem to be siesta changes in urban Barcelona. Inma, the pouty barmaid, notices differences in her love life with the two-timing politician Gustavo Rubio.

“The jangling phone jolted her back to reality.  It was Him, capital H.  He was coming early that afternoon.  Siestas during the Holy Week were starting earlier and growing longer.  Inma remained standing so as not to wrinkle the iridescent creation.”

Para Tomar or Drinking in Local Colour

No sangría, sidra

Sidra, por favor

If you asked for the name of a favourite Spanish drink, the first answer would be sangria.  However, sidra, cider in English, remains a popular regional beverage in Asturias, a province of northern Spain. 

The traditional light apple cider, fermented and packaged like champagne gives this regional classic a certain nobility.  Traditionally, perhaps now folklorically, sidra is poured from on high, a glowing fountainlike flow created by holding the bottle up and the glass low. This cider’s alcohol content is similar to beer’s. Light and now available in a non-alcoholic version, Asturian sidra should be sold everywhere, yet it remains limited to Spain, some Hispanic marketplaces, and Spanish specialty stores.

One renowned brand uses the gaitero as name and image. Again, many consider Spain to be a land of white villages, gypsies and sangria; whereas the northern provinces (Gallicia and Asturias) resemble Scotland more than anything else.  Many residents have a Celtic air about them.  This influence appears in Gallego and Asturiana music  so the bagpipe player (gaitero) suits sidra perfectly. The old-fashioned image appearing here gives you some local colour.

Given the cool damp climate, Asturians do not shy away from a drink to warm up or to mark an occasion. Besides fine Spanish sherry or brandy, Asturias possesses is Anis de Asturias. Every self-respecting local must have on hand one long tall shiny bottle for guests.  If not drunk often enough, the mouth of the bottle accumulates sugar. In a region known for gastronomy and hospitality, you do not see this phenomenon often.

In One Dress, One Day, there is a reference to one character’s family  cider business, but the regional anise liquor plays a more important role when the farm family of Uno, Nieves and Mother reunites and takes a celebratory sip.  In fact, later, Uno, the blind son and lottery ticket-seller, recalls the licora.

Uno decided to break the news as gently as possible to Mother only after she got up. That nip of licora had really put her to sleep.  He could easily justify buying the four extra loaves in gratitude for the driver’s bringing them news.  Right then, Uno felt not so much fear but more a sense of purpose, of belonging with Nieves, Mother, and the farm, even the province. He thanked the driver again and headed back upstairs on tiptoe.”

To be continued…


SALUD or to your health!


Do you know Angelababy?

It seems that she is a Chinese star who wore a Dior wedding dress.

No one knows how much the Chinese superstar spent on her custom designer gown at her extravagant 2015 wedding to actor Huang XiaomingDo the math, as they say– 115 feet of ivory satin organza, 165 feet of tulle, nearly 100 hand-cut rose bouquets of Chantilly lace, not to mention the 10-foot train.  By the way, it took five months to create. One can assume that a massive chunk of the $31-million wedding budget was spent on bridalwear. Shame that the traditional Chinese costumes and rituals are being forsaken by wealthy Chinese. Many now go to Crete and Santorini for weddings and honeymoons (with their relatives in tow). Imagine a remake of my big fat Greek in Mandarin?

Another star’s wedding once fascinated the world. However it falls much lower on the price list. Grace Kelly’s 1956 wedding to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III exemplified Hollywood and royalty. MGM costume designer Helen Rose made the American princess’ dress from 100 yards of silk and 25 yards of taffeta. At the time it cost around $10,000, but today, the price tag would be closer to $85,000

  • P.S. SUGGESTION: New Bridal List: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue plus garment insurance against stain, loss or theft.

Dream Wedding Dress?

OR Dream of a Wedding Dress with Online Interpretation

 My Celtic side makes me superstitious.

Standard interpretations learned at my grandfather’s knee include oppositions, e.g., if you dream of a wedding, you’ll go to a funeral!

I do dream of being in a wedding dress at least once a year. It is not always my wedding, either! I try to give my own twist to the dream by considering how I felt in the moment and upon waking.  If you ever look up dream interpretations, you may find something similar to what follows: 

NB The meaning varies depending on whether you are already married or want to be! PLUS how you feel about marriage in general! A few nuances are included.


Getting married in a dream

 To dream you are getting married may represent your commitment to or partnership with someone or something.

 OR  wish fulfillment, if you desire to get married in waking life. [Surprise?]


May represent a union or merging of the masculine and feminine aspectsof yourself.  

Your unconscious may be telling you that you have met the one you should marry.

Marrying your current spouse

May symbolize reviewing and questioning the status of your relationship. Consider how you feel – are you happy or unhappy about marrying your spouse in the dream?

May symbolize recommitting yourself and reminding yourself of the love you share.

Marrying your ex!!

May suggest you have learned from the experience and accepted the end of the relationship. (You may be recognizing the similarities between your ex and a current relationship.)

 A dream about a wedding where someone else is getting married may be dealing with issues involving your independence or commitment in a relationship.

 May suggest feeling jealous of the happiness of others. [FOMO?]

If you see others getting married, consider the main character traits of the bride and groom and how they interact with each other. It may be representing oppositional aspects within yourself that you are trying to accept and merge.

Other wedding-related dreams

 If you dream of a wedding dress or wedding ring, you may be evaluating a current relationship andconsidering the prospect of getting married; you may be considering making acommitment to someone or something.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on

A dream about a broken wedding ring may symbolize fear that your marriage is in jeopardy of ending or may be awarning that you shouldn’t get married.

A dream of being at a wedding reception may represent a family celebration or a reminder of the joy your partner and family bring to you.

Happy Ending? Sweet Dreams!

Judging by the Cover

Never judge a book by its cover?!

Recently a major publishing house sent an e-mail asking me to vote on two different proposed book covers for a non-fiction work on financial scams. Clever marketing: Use a focus group to judge a product then market the product to that same group.

Obviously, the publisher knew enough to profile me and chose well, as both author and topic interest me.

Advice abounds on building a platform and knowing your readership.  Key question: Who is your reader?  Answer: Female. Romantic. Curious.

I asked my friend, a graphic artist, to design a mock-up cover for my manuscript One Dress, One Day. Naively, I believed accompanying artwork would make my proposal stand out. I sent mock-up covers to only two publishers. Nothing.

Of course, all the how-to-get-yourself-published advice columns and websites tell you the opposite. Perhaps I was influenced by Céline Dion’s story about how as a teenager, she wrapped her demo cassette with a big red bow then sent it to her future agent and husband, René Angélil. Too enthusiastic? Too late.  A lesson for me.

Fortunately, my artist friend became so involved in the manuscript that she begged for more. As a reader and artist, Joy responded to the drama, setting and pop culture but primarily became fascinated by the characters.  “What happened to the thief?” Joy kept asking me.  “And the baby?” [NO SPOILER ALERT]

At that point, my concept was a short hybrid text, a novellario, but now I am fleshing out my cast of quirky characters.  The thief, his lover, … this sounds like a lush Greenaway film with cannibalism. Rest assured, One Dress One Day resembles Almodóvar’s colourful cinema. A romantic romp in bittersweet Barcelona, circa 1990. Tapas and Sangria plus pop music within one dramatic 24-hour period.

Joy’s professional perspective not only led to the eye-catching illustration seen here but also reminded me to keep telling the story.  Rather like gossip, readers want more…   about the stolen wedding gown ensemble and how it touched the thief, the barmaid, the farmgirl, the blindman, the politician, his wife, the bride and groom plus the middle-age couple.

Here are the mock-ups. Which illustration did I prefer? The cover with a vague romantic couple in the background or the other with a blurb at the bottom of the image?   Flamenco? Taxi? 

Honestly, both covers inspire me to keep chronicling the lives touched by a stolen wedding gown.