Friday, August 22, 2014

Las Flores en Tu Balcón

Astorganos are so very critical. Critical of themselves and critical of others. I'm convinced it's in their DNA. You can usually tell that you're doing something well, for example, if you don't hear something negative being said.  It's so true it's laughable, like a joke I heard last night at a benefit.

So, it was quite normal that I didn't immediately think lovely thoughts nor respond with a "thank you" when I heard a two elderly Spanish women assessing our place.  Or maybe they were speaking of the one for sale next door (any buyers?) I heard something about the balconies, perhaps our balconies, and they were saying "look at that, and look there, at those," and so on...

Camouflaged in my pink floral dress, I quietly kept dead-heading the geraniums, pinks, reds and whites. It's our garden, all that can fit and grow on four very small, approximately 5 by 2 foot wide and long balconies, looking for worms, noting a few white flies, and making my own critical assessment when they looked up, and we three knew we were unable to avoid a greeting of some sorts. So, I gave a little wave with my hand. The one resumed her commentary, "We are looking at your flowers. They are so noticeable, so nice."

Well, that made me stop and straighten up. "We really need to paint the facade," I answered, talking natively, beginning a humble and recognizable banter.
When the tiles and grout were being repaired in spring.
It was over in seconds, a short, but such pleasant exchange. When they said good-bye and I closed the balcony doors, I had to stop and smile at their admiration.
It feels so good. Yes, it does.  To do something well, and to hear it said. Maybe this is even more true in a foreign country. Makes you think.
Antique shop window/Escaparate en una tienda de antigüedades en Grants Pass, Oregon


Adopt an greyhound and you will always be glad you did! Each year in Spain more than 50,000 of these precious dogs are abandoned, hung or killed in some way. They are some of the most loving and intelligent dogs and it's possible to care for one even if you have a simple a small flat or house like ours, without any yard.
Adopta un galgo y no lo arrepentirás nunca! Cada año en España más de 50,000 de estos perros preciosos son abandonados, ahorcados o sacrificados de alguna manera. Son entre los más cariñosos e inteligentes de los perros y es posible aun teniendo un piso sencillo o casa pequeña sin jardín como la nuestra. 
Traducción del video:  Jasmine fue abusada y abandonada// para morir sola en una fría caseta de jardín// pero ella tuvo una segunda oportunidad// esta es la historia de Jasmine//Love//Unos desconocidos le acogieron (Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary)//ellos le dieron de comer...le amaron//ahora le toca a ella devolverlo (lo que ha recibido)//Con un lametón de bienvenida o sencillamente con su presencia tranquila// Jasmine ha ayudado a incontables huérfanos recuperar su confianza//y lo más importante...sus vidas//Jasmine tiene el corazón de una verdadera madre//su amor no tiene limites// con la ayuda de gente cuidadosa y dedicada en...//los huérfanos abusados y abandonados// tienen nueva esperanza//Quieres ser parte del amor de Jasmine, visítanos en

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When the Mantis Flew Away

Ryan rescued a green praying mantis and transported it to the kitchen floor balcony geraniums where it lived many days, but then disappeared mysteriously the morning after Ryan boarded the bus to catch his Madrid/Dallas/Sacramento flight back to California life.
Photo courtesy of Naturalist Enrique
Sombra has been out of sorts every since she noticed something was happening with Ryan's suitcase. It wasn't serving as a roof to her kennel anymore, but was down and being packed. Yes, she knows the signs for packing, doesn't like them, nor her family leaving. I agree, we are the same. We didn't like that Ryan, like the mantis, just disappeared.
So she began whining, commenced her nervous habit of finding shoes, clothes, anything really, of the family to stash away in her crate, and finally she resorted to barking at odd noises over the balconies, which she never does. We finally went out for a 3am walk that first night, which neither of us does either, I can assure you, and still her restlessness continued.
Now, a week today has gone by and she still looks up and down the stairs for a big boy, who startled her at first with his large playful gestures and exuberance, but finally won her over. From greyhound nose to tail. All the way. Of course he did.

Ryan teaches Sombra to take her first selfie.
We, too, had initial adjustments; had hard things to say and hear, but just as quickly we settled in. A comfortable routine; one day after another, full of love, great times; hugs as we passed each other, games during sobremesa*, surfing the internet side by side, cooking, shopping, and just doing what we do, but doing together, which, of course, makes all the difference in the world. What joy.
So Sombra, I'm looking for him, too. Be brave I told him when he was leaving and he didn't want to go.  Be brave, Sombra. I'm repeating that line to myself, too, like a meditative mantra, a prayer, a plea with my heart.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Solitude in the Maragateria

The region of León called the Maragatería had its own traditional way of building stone houses with four stones framing the windows and large doors that open up into a spacious courtyard, garden or patio entrance to the home. Only some of them have been preserved, so it's a rare treat to have an invitation to visit the inside of a Maragata house like we did this beautiful summer afternoon.

La Tranquilidad de Verano en la Maragateria
La región de León llamada la Maragatería tiene su propia forma tradicional de construcción de casas de piedra con cuatro piedras que enmarca las ventanas y grandes puertas que se abren a un patio amplio o entrada. Sólo algunas de ellas se han conservado así que es un gusto raro tener una invitación para visitar una como lo hicimos esta hermosa tarde de verano.

This linen and lace curtain waves in the gentle breeze from across the hills and over the brook.
Esta cortina de lino y encaje ondea con la suave brisa sobre el arroyo y a través de las colinas

A summer bouquet dried in the sun set against a stone wall while umbrellas take a long rest next to the front entrance.
Un ramo de verano secado al sol contrasta un muro de piedra, mientras que los paraguas toman un largo descanso al lado de la entrada principal.

One story up, cheery filtered light pours through aspens and makes this a perfect spot to read, rock and just rest.
Un piso arriba, la luz filtrada alegremente se vierte a través de los chopos y hace de éste un lugar perfecto para leer, mecerse o simplemente descansar.

Blush and pink tones pleasantly contrast the home's earthen hues. This pink bag is just begging for a walk in the nearby fields and woods.
Distintos tonos rosados ​​contrastan agradablemente con los matices de tierra de la casa. Este bolso de color rosa está suplicando dar un paseo por los campos y bosques cercanos.

Homes in the Maragatería have large courtyards and properties that make you want to spread your arms and twirl around in their expanse. This home has a robot lawn mower that is programmed to keep the lawn cut evenly and in a timely way. I had to laugh at such a juxtaposition, the antiquity of stone architecture and modernity in its upkeep.
Las casas en la Maragatería tienen grandes patios y propiedades que dan ganas de extender los brazos y girar alrededor de su extensión. Esta casa tiene un robot corta-césped programado para mantener hierba de manera uniforme y oportuna. Tuve que reírme de esta yuxtaposición, la tradicional arquitectura de piedra y la modernidad en su mantenimiento.

Both greyhound and bulldog confer that this is a dog's paradise.
Ambos, el galgo y el bulldog coinciden en que esto es el paraíso de un perro.

Some balconies donne explosions of color, while others maintain a simple exterior austerity.
Algunos balcones se visten de gala con explosiones de color, mientras otros mantienen una sencilla austeridad exterior.

The town's street at dusk. I remember thinking this looked like a poor home in disrepair, but I was so wrong. Just look what you see when you glance inside such big heavy doors that face the road.
La calle del pueblo al atardecer. Recuerdo haber pensado que éstas parecían casas pobres en mal estado, pero yo estaba tan equivocada. Basta con echar un vistazo y ver lo que hay dentro de esas grandes y pesadas puertas que dan a la calle.

An albergue, or place to stay for pilgrims who walk the Way of Saint James to Santiago.
Un albergue o lugar para alojarse los peregrinos que caminan por el Camino de Santiago.

Buen Camino, Peregrino, through León's Maragatería.
Buen Camino, Peregrino, a través de la Maragatería de León.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


"I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back." - Abraham Lincoln
So, it wasn't a particularly quotable kind of book, at least not for me. And, I'll be honest, I was annoyed by circling words and ideas, that at the right moment might have been profound, but often left me to ponder the real point, especially when the same literary technique got used two or three times too often.
"She (my mother) seemed to come at me know, the full perfect and imperfect force of her humanity, as if her life was an intricately painted mural and I could finally see the whole thing.  Who she'd been to me and who she hadn't.  How it was she belonged to me profoundly, and also how she didn't."

Nonetheless, it was a great adventure and I, true to character, found quotes that took greater meaning and form as I read. Like the difference between conceptualizing and really doing something hard.
And the reality of not being able to hold onto love and relationships - we each have a free will to choose to stay or go.  What led up to divorce was my own personal lesson. It hurt. A lot.  And now I can finally agree with the last line.
On accepting life, whether we like what's on our plate or not.
And, a call to courage.
Reading the fluid text of Wild made me suffer the PCT (the Pacific Coast Trail) along with Cheryl.

There were lots of preposterous details for me as a reader, such as an author changing her surname. Cheryl Strayed. Strayed? Granted, this is something possible in America, but nearly impossible and unthinkable in Spain, as it would certainly alter the following of lineage, history and efficiency as recorded in the centuries old Book of the Family, the official registry in Madrid, where my own name can finally be found.

Regardless, Cheryl made me think constantly about her travel, but honestly, mostly her hurting feet (her too tight boots, her swollen toes, blackened and then lost toenails, blisters and more).
And though I vacillated with liking and  identifying with her as a protagonist, I couldn't help live out her moments
and in particular, mourn her mother's death,
"I was twenty-two, the same age she was when she'd been pregnant with me. She was going to leave my life at the same moment that I came into hers, I thought" 

share in her grief over the following years,
understand her need to escape,
"The thing about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, the thing that was so profound to me that summer - and yet also, like most things, so very simple - was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do.  How there was no escape or denial. " 

acknowledging the disadvantages and advantages of growing up poor, and knowing how to make do with less (the entirety of page 280 is great,)

and of course, reading to champion her along every step of her 1100+ mile journey.
"But, no one laughed. No one would.  The universe, I'd learned, was never, ever kidding.  It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.  I really did have only one boot."  

Finally, it was shear magic to share her awe of Crater Lake right after Enrique and I just got to see that amazing spectacle of nature earlier this month.
"This was once Mazama, I kept reminding myself. This was once a mountain that stood nearly 12,000 feet tall and then had its heart removed.  This was once a wasteland of lava and pumice and ash.  This was once an empty bowl that took hundreds of years to fill.  But hard as I tried, i couldn't see them in my mind's eye.  Not the mountain or the wasteland or the empty bowl.  They simply were not there anymore.  There was only the stillness and silence of that water:  what a mountain and a wasteland and an empty bowl turned into after the healing began."
Wild needed to fly from Spain with Ryan when he left yesterday, back to Sacramento, California to Risa to enjoy the read.  So, I raced to the end, careful not to miss details. It was good, really good. Thanks Kathy, for lending it to me and my own truth-seeking, world traveling girls. They are on their own kind of wild trip, a month-long sister cycling adventure from Grants Pass to San Diego, Oregon down Hwy 1.
Here's to life and living in an exuberant way the most important things; understanding the brevity of life in general and learning the greatness of love.
My own challenge?  I hope I learn to love God and others wildly and with abandon the days and adventures that are left me. Anyone else?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus

What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish religion?

What if I told you getting you to vote republican, really wasn’t his mission?

Because republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian,

And just because you call some people blind, doesn’t automatically give you vision.

If religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?

Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?

Tells single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever been divorced

Yet God in the Old Testament actually calls the religious people whores

Religion preaches grace, but another thing they practice,

Tend to ridicule Gods people, they did it to John the Baptist,

Can't fix their problems, so they try to mask it,

Not realizing that’s just like sprayin perfume on a casket

Because the problem with religion is that it never gets to the core,

It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores.

Let’s dress up the outside, make things look nice and neat,

Its funny that’s what they do to mummies, while the corpse rots underneath,

Now I ain’t judging I’m just saying be careful of putting on a fake look,

Because there’s a problem if people only know that you’re a Christian by that little section on your facebook

In every other aspect of life you know that logics unworthy

Its like saying you play for the lakers just because you bought a jersey

But see I played this game too; no one seemed to be on to me,

I was acting like church kid, while addicted to pornography.

I’d go to church on Sunday, but on saturday getting faded,

Acting as if I was simply created to have sex and get wasted.

Spend my whole life putting on this façade of neatness,

But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness.

If grace is water, then the church should be an ocean,

'Cuz its not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken

I no longer have to hide my failures I don’t have to hide my sin,

Because my salvation doesn’t depend on me, it depends on him.

because when I was Gods enemy and certainly not a fan,

God looked down on me and said, “I want that man!”

Which is so different from religious people, and why Jesus called em fools

Don’t you see hes so much better than just following some rules?

Now let me clarify, I love the church, I love the bible, and I believe in sin

But my question, is if Jesus were here today, would your church let Him in?

Remember He was called a drunkard and a glutton by “religious men”

The Son of God not supported self-righteousness, not now, not then.

Now back to the topic, one thing I think is vital to mention,

How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums,

One is the work of God one is a man made invention,

One is the cure and one is the infection.

Because Religion says do, Jesus says done.

Religion says slave, Jesus says son,

Religion puts you in shackles but Jesus sets you free.

Religion makes you blind, but Jesus lets you see.

This is what makes religion and Jesus two different clans,

Religion is man searching for God, but Christianity is God searching for man.

Which is why salvation is freely mine, forgiveness is my own,

Not based on my efforts, but Christ’s obedience alone.

Because he took the crown of thorns, and blood that dripped down his face

He took what we all deserved, that’s why we call it grace.

While being murdered he yelled “father forgive them, they know not what they do”,

Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you

He paid for all your sin, and then buried it in the tomb,

Which is why im kneeling at the cross now saying come on there’s room

So know I hate religion, in fact I literally resent it,

Because when Jesus cried It is finished, I believe He meant it.

Read more - "What You Can Hold Onto - Before Things (and You) Fail this Week.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Monk's Cave

In the heart of the Province of León is Valdevimbre, a sleepy town of wine-cellar dotted hills with less than 1000 inhabitants, but where wine is celebrated in all its forms. Next week the Wine Festival begins. Besides multiple bodegas, many of them cave cellars, you can visit the Museo de Vino (the Wine Museum) which is divided into two sections, one a traditional wine-cellar cave and a new section dedicated to wine tasting, courses in viticulture and thematic teaching on wine cultivation and processes.

There are ancient wine production tools throughout the town at various locations like the restaurant bodega, La Cueva del Cura, which have great tourist appeal for those who appreciate rustic and traditional old country charm.

La Cueva del Cura, dates back to the 1700s and serves traditional delicacies and meals of León: red meats, always from locally pastured animals, fresh and salted cod, local cured meats, tortillas (potato fritattas), stuffed roasted peppers and much more. Even with the heavily weighted meat selection, I enjoyed a highly satisfying and delicious ensalada mixta with the greens, tomatoes and asparagus all fresh and local and setas a la plancha, wild local mushrooms grilled in garlic and olive oil. The *Sobremesa included a lively, enjoyable time with Ryan, who's visiting this month and Esteban, our contractor for the house remodel.

Sobremesa: After the main meal of the day, which usually takes place at around 2 or 3 p.m., the Spanish often linger on at table drinking coffee and/or liqueurs and chatting, playing cards, reading or watching TV before returning to work later in the afternoon. While estar de sobremesa is also occasionally applied to the period after the evening meal, it is more usually taken to mean after lunch, and between 2.00 and 5.00 p.m.