Mind Melding with Authors

Mind Meld

The souls of my favorite authors have left impressions on mine.  I am so grateful to have gotten to share in the experiences described by the writers whose works that I have read.  The events, emotions and viewpoints they describe are channeled directly into my mind.


Travelling through Europe as a dancer and singer with the opera Porgy and Bess in the 1950’s is part of my psyche, thanks to Dr. Maya Angelou. http://mayaangelou.com/


(My apologies for this drawing. It is more grand in the book and my mind.)

Dr. Angelou is one of my most beloved authors as her works are compassionate and genuine.  Her experiences and perspective are vastly different from my own.  As a Canadian girl who grew up in northern Alberta, it was hard for me to fathom events that occurred to her and the culture she endured in the pre-WWII American South.  Dr. Angelou was not responsible for the situation of when and where she was born, but she developed courage and the tools to persevere against adversity.


Phill H

(Phil Helmuth at the 2007 WSOP)

Thanks to Phil Helmuth for the abundance of poker advice provided.   Poker has many variables and Phil’s sharing of poker strategy and experience has been extremely valuable.  I no longer smooth call with Aces while trying to entrap other players.  I thought I was very clever limping with aces, and in the poker circles that was getting known as a “Bunny bet” (my poker nickname is Bunny).  Smooth calling aces will get them cracked way too often.


When choosing a book to read, it is usually an autobiography of someone I already like and admire. I have read autobiographies of people I thought I liked, but while reading their book I leaned more towards not liking them.  In those situations, the mind meld did not occur.  My tastes gravitate to rock star and poker player biographies, but they are not limited to those types.

Many biographies have co-authors.  Ozzy Osbourne collaborated with Chris Ayres on “I am Ozzy” , which is a great book.  I enjoyed having Ozzy explain his viewpoint and the logic regarding his outlandish moments.


(Meeting Ozzy in 2010)

There is definitely an impact on my mind from what the Authors expressed.  As a reader, you have an intimate realtionship with the author.  The author has revealed inner thoughts and feelings.  When you meet a person, you don’t know what is going on in their head.  It is refreshing to have a glimpse of them through reading.

Elusive Poker Trophies

Yes, I am a poker junkie.  That is me holding my winning medallion at Caesar’s.

Ceaser Medal


The fix I seek is more than just money; it is the prestige of poker titles.

WHY? The appealing thing about poker, is that it equalizes people.  I have sat at tables with a huge variety of people.  It doesn’t matter what your race, sex, stature or religion is, poker is a table of people playing a game.  The common thread that all players have is that they are there to win.

WHAT? The holy grail of poker titles is to win the World Series of Poker, No Limit Hold ‘Em, Main Event (WSOP,NLHE, ME). That title comes with a gold and diamond bracelet as well as millions of dollars.  There are also WSOP Circuit Events. The prize for those is a ring.


HOW? My husband Doug and I participated in our first WSOP event in 2006 and have played continually as timing and funds permit.  To make money at a WSOP you usually have to place in the top 100 players.  The number of players in an event varies.  The events Doug & I have played have had anywhere from 1200 players to 3500 players. Here is Doug (Titan) at an event in 2006. Titan_at_the_tables

Part of the excitement of participating in a major event, is being with so many fellow poker enthusiasts.  Additionally, you are amongst poker greats.  I have to admit that I was star struck more than once while walking the hallways at the Rio.  There are plenty of celebrities.  Doug was pleased to meet Jennifer Tilly.


Poker is about keeping your cool and having a stoic poker face.  When I encountered my favorite poker player, Johnny Chan, in the lobby at  a WSOP event in 2007, I was not calm and cool at all.  Doug saved the day and calmly said “Johnny, hey buddy, would you mind a picture with my wife?”   They had met previously a couple of times and were familiar.  Johnny was quite pleasant he chatted with me & we took a picture.  It was definitely a high point in my life.


Poker can be exciting and glamorous at times, but playing poker tests your emotions and endurance.  To money at an event you need to play hundreds of hands, build your stack and avoid elimination.  No player is immune from bad luck.  If you persevere for 10-12 hours, you may get to put your chips in baggies and play again the next day.  You leave tired and sore from sitting and focusing for so long.  There are massage therapists available during tournaments, which is a nice temporary diversion, but doesn’t really help your game.


Winning! The objective, is of course to win.  This turns out to be the most thrilling aspect of poker.  I have won plenty of times, by not a major title as of yet.   As mentioned, Doug has moneyed at the WSOP.  In his 2008 event, it was very late and all the players were tired and waiting for the bubble to break, (the bubble is point when players get the prize money).  This picture was taken when the announcement was made that all players left – are in the money. Doug does look thrilled 😉

Doug & Humberto in the $

The quest will continue. There are times the cards fall in your favor and many times they don’t.  I want to keep playing WSOP events so I will be there when the cards line up to thrill me and I take home that elusive jewellery.

The humour of MS

I avoid telling people that I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  If I do, it is usually included in a humbling explanation for something spastic I just did.

Really, look it up, spasticity is a condition of MS.  I have always had spastic tendencies, so when I was diagnosed with MS in 2010, it did help explain a great deal.  I do not think it has really changed how I draw, I never could.  Please excuse the quality of my drawings.

Falling down or tripping happens to me more than most people.  My left foot has been numb for years.  Prior to the MS determination, I thought it was just from sitting or sleeping weird.  Visits to the chiropractor were done in attempts to fix it.  They never helped and I decided that they were all frauds.

I started a new position with a company and was invited to a nice dinner with the group at an upscale restaurant.  We were chatting and dinner was served.  As we commenced eating, I picked up my fork and my arm spasmed, hurling my fork across the room.


Another time, a coworker offered to buy me coffee.  We chatted about work to and from the Starbucks.  As we approached the elevator lobby, my foot tripped on the carpet edging and down I went.  Everyone around was so concerned if I was okay.  I jumped up and assured everyone that I was fine.  On the elevator up to the office, my coworker apologized profusely.  My red face dissipated and I told him not to worry, that it happens all the time.


Having MS is draining. I have learned how to work within my energy limitations. My energy is quite good in the mornings, so I hustle to get everything that needs to be done then.

I am good at the illusion of not having MS, until my energy is gone.  About 6:00pm the pain creeps in and my body seizes up.  Fortunately, sleep restores energy and I am good to go the next day.


MS is a silly disease.  My own body attacked my protective nerve coatings (Myelin).  Fortunately, I am on treatments that help prevent further damage.  The medicine is expensive and I finally got pills instead of needles.

Sure I have the existing damage that makes my life a three stooges movie, but it is anticipated that myelin repair medicine may be available by 2019.  Many people who have MS do not have the mobility I have.  Hopefully it will not diminish.  I guess I can draw walkers or scooters if required.  My art technique can probably manage that.

Perhaps I come across as being light-headed, but by finding the humour in MS helps immensely. I could be angry at the world or sad and focus on being a victim.  Those seem like unpleasant options to me.

I am alive!

Spastic, but I AM ALIVE!

Playing with Shiba’s instead of visiting the Eiffel Tower

Recently I had lunch with a friend that I have known for 25 years.  She is getting married this spring at a very nice hotel in Las Vegas and my husband Doug and I are invited.  I am going to attend the wedding, but I will be taking my 11-year-old daughter, Claire, as my guest.  She was delighted that Claire is coming, but expressed concern that I am not bringing Doug.  I explained that since we have dogs, traveling arrangements are different in my family.

“Just put them in a kennel” she exclaimed.

I explained why a kennel isn’t an option. We are not morally opposed to the use of kennels.  It is because the breed of our dogs.  They are Shiba Inu and Shibas are not for everyone. They are known to be disobedient, possessive and are famous for the “Shiba scream”.  Our Shiba’s, Koda and Akira have been in kennels and it was not a decent experience.  Although many hours of training have been done with Koda and Akira, they are not very obedient.  Doug, Claire and I are not distressed by this.  We have chosen to have them in our lives even though it means modifying vacations.

“Well, I would put them down if they are that much trouble and you can’t travel”  She responded. This is not a shock as I have other friends and family that feel the same way.  If you have ever had a dog, you probably don’t consider euthanasia as an option to accommodate your vacation planning.

Why do I tolerate my headstrong canines?  I love them.  It is a mothers love, the kind that can overlook almost anything.  Whatever strife I deal with each day melts when I enter the house and they jump on me with enough force to knock me over.  I smile and recline on the cushioned bench I placed in the entrance. Then Koda completes his  compulsive rituals of moving in circles, then grabbing something and bringing it to me as an offer.  Akira wags her tail and has her ears down in submission while grinning at me until I pet her.

It helps that Koda and Akira came to our family as puppies.  We fell in love with them at first sight.

koda - puppy Akira

Travel limitations did not happen immediately, they evolved through experience.  One of the first lessons occurred when Claire and I drove to Jasper, Alberta one winter with our new puppy Koda.  We were off to Northern B.C to meet up with Doug and arranged to stay over at the exquisite Jasper Park Lodge that allowed pets.  As new owners we were not well-trained in managing a pup.  We walked with Koda to the elevator and I pulled on his leash to control him.  Unfortunately I had clipped the leash to the flimsy licence owner tag  instead to the proper hoop on Koda’s collar.  The leash became detached and Koda ran away, sprinting through the lobby with a grin.  The doormen in long ornate coats scrambled with us as we tried to catch him, it was like a  scene from an absurd kids movie.  Koda ran under the tables startling the elegantly dressed patrons.  After about ten minutes, Koda stopped and a doorman grabbed him.  Claire and I sighed in relief.  What we learned that to always be mindful when securing a leash on a dog collar.

Reception & Meeting Space

That one experience did not cause us to limit international travel.  Koda was in a kennel for a week when our family went to Disneyland.  When Koda was a single pup he was very easy-going.  Claire asked for a black Shiba for her 8th birthday and we contacted a local Shiba breeder and ordered Akira.   Akira was instantly loved and Koda was very happy to have a playmate.  Koda and Akira became inseparable.   After the first day they played like siblings and little Akira did not back down at all to Koda.

Claire and Akira Sept '10 image (3)

The first year of having two dogs, there were no major issues other that chewed shoes and furniture.  The dogs never soiled in the house and played well with our friends dogs.  Our vacations were summer trips with a travel trailer.  They were very enjoyable family vacations with the dogs.

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Travelling within Canada is what we prefer to do for family vactions.  We can take the dogs with us.  Doug and I talk of going to Paris, Hawaii or New York, but flying will be too stressful for the dogs and with the Shiba screams, it would be intolerable.  Those trips will have to wait.  We did go to Vegas a number of times together, when we got a sitter for Claire and the dogs.  The sitters were competent ladies, but they did not have success containing Koda and Akira.  Koda got away a number of times and Akira would go outside and not come in the house when the sitter to leave for work.

Koda1   Pups 2

I did chuckle internally at this.  They are mischeivious Shibas and no one knows them like their mother.  Additionally, I should mention that I would not enjoy a vacation without them, I love those pups. 🙂

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