Friday, February 27, 2015

Destruction, A Simple Difference Between Love and Hate

I read the news today, Oh Boy! As if massive beheadings, victimisation of women, church burnings, kidnappings and more were not enough! the ISIS invasion into Mosul and massive destruction of art and historical monuments and artefacts has even the most liberal and atheistic individuals talking. On El Pais' front page we (teachers) couldn't avoid the subject. These priceless pieces of history are now gone forever and for the most part haven't been stolen, but simply ruthlessly destroyed.

There is a simple difference between love and hate. Love builds up and is constructive. Hate tears down and destroys.

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from "Loving Your Enemies")”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Extremists used sledgehammers and power drills to smash ancient artifacts at a museum in the northern city of Mosul 
Militant uses a power tool to destroy a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity at the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. The statue dates back to the 9th century B.C.

Isaiah 59:7
"Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; 
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways."

Oh, where, Obama, are our Monuments' Men?! 

Today, in the teachers' lounge at my Spanish high school, liberals and conservatives alike have called you a coward, a turn-coat. It's the first time I've heard such negative sentimentality in traditionally Obama-loving Europe. Yet, there it is. Who can respect a president who sits by and lets such atrocities occur, offering only lip-service to the American people and the world? Even Roosevelt and Eisenhower, from opposing ideologies had the huevos to come together to create a strategic plan to act out against the unethical acts of the Nazis. 

*Monuments Men (see the film): "In a race against time, and under mandate from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, this group of unlikely heroes—museum directors, curators, art scholars, educators, artists, architects, and archivists—risked their lives on the front lines and worked tirelessly to protect Europe's monuments and greatest cultural treasures from both the destruction of the war and seizure by Hitler and the Nazis. Without vehicles, typewriters, or full authority, they managed to track, locate, and return more than five million looted cultural items. Their role in preserving these treasures stands without precedent."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Men

My men. This is what Mark had to say about his brother leaving for the military: "Had to say goodbye to my best friend today. Not only have you been the best brother I could ever ask for and a huge role model in my life, but you also remind me on a daily basis to be kind and self sacrificing. I'm so proud of you and I love you more than I can say. I know you will do amazing things in the Army; see you in "a bit".' 

Mis hombres. Esto es lo que dijo Mark acerca de la salida de su hermano para la mili: "Hoy tuve que despedirme de mi mejor amigo. No solo has sido el mejor hermano que yo podría haber buscado y un ejemplo enorme en mi vida, sino también me recuerdas a diario ser amable y sacrificado. Estoy muy orgulloso de ti y te quiero más de lo que puedo expresar. Sé que harás cosas asombrosas en el ejército; nos vemos dentro de "un poco".

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Just off the plane from the States, weary travelors find Segovia just the perfect stop-off spot.

Where we found vegetarian options, Syrian and Lebanese style with a great view of the Aqueduct.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Petaluma, Just Padding Around

Browsing art magazines, American Art Review and Fine Arts (Museums of SF) over hot chocolates at Sara's favourite coffee house, Acre Coffee . She whispered confidentially, "You know they grind the chocolate into the drinks themselves." And I was happy to discover she had ordered our mugs of deliciousness with almond milk. A perfect moment in a city full of artful vibrancy.

Navegando por las revistas de arte, Críticas de Arte Americano y Bellas Artes (Museos de SF) mientras tomábamos chocolate caliente, en la cafetería favorita de Sara, Acre Coffee, ella susurró confidencialmente "¿Sabes que rayan el chocolate sobre la misma bebida?". Y yo estaba feliz de descubrir que nuestras tazas de delicia las había pedido con leche de almendra. Un momento perfecto en una ciudad llena de vitalidad artística.
Petaluma- founded in 1858, Petaluma is a city situated in Sonoma County, California. In 2010 it had a population of 60,450
(to) pad - to travel (a route) on foot, especially at a slow pace; tramp: to pad around the country

Petaluma - Petaluma, fundada en 1858 es una ciudad ubicada en el condado de Sonoma en el estado estadounidense de California. En el año 2010 tenía una población de 60,450 habitantes.
(to) pad - viajar (una ruta) a pie, sobre todo a un ritmo lento; "vagabundear" alrededor de todo el país.
The outside of buildings and the insides of shops are full of color, texture, and interesting details everywhere you look.

El exterior de los edificios y los interiores de las tiendas están llenos de color, textura y detalles interesantes por todas partes allá donde mires.
What caught my eye in Red Umbrella Consignment was an old trunk, distressed wooden bench, baby's christening gown and antique boxes like this one holding old children readers.

Lo que me llamó la atención en Red Umbrella Consignment fue un viejo baúl, un banco de madera gastado, un vestido de bautizo de bebé y unas cajas antiguas como ésta, que conteniendo viejos libros de lecturas infantiles.
Swirls of color set off by a large colourful canvas, greens, reds and yellows, but my favourite niche at Cokas Diko this with indigos and patterns of blue.

Remolinos de color desencadenados en un gran lienzo de colores: verdes, rojos y amarillos, pero mi lugar favorito en Cokas Diko fue éste, con índigos y estampados en azules.

I could just pack up all three of these signs and take them home to Astorga. What great messages. What I did buy and will have to pack up are BOOKS, nineteen of them to date, bestsellers, classics, of special interest, all in English, something I can't get easily back home, and well, what's a suitcase for, anyway, if not for literature up to the last permissible pound?

Podría empaquetar estos tres carteles y llevármelos a casa a Astorga. Vaya mensajes más buenos. Lo que sí compré y tendré que llevar en la maleta son LIBROS, diecinueve  de ellos hasta ahora, bestsellers, clásicos y libros de interés especial, todos en inglés, algo que no encuentro fácilmente en casa, y bueno, para que que existe una maleta, de todas formas, si no es para llenarla de literatura hasta la última libra permitida? 
Textiles galore.   Textiles a tutiplén.
Pinks and lavenders set off by greys and natural tones.
Rosas y lilas contrastados por grises y tonos naturales.
Not going for this clown or this look, but I have to say the red leather couch is to die for!
I especially love the consignment and thrift shops that benefit wonderful causes like Pick of the Litter Thrift & Gift, whose proceeds all go to spaying, neutering and rescuing, when possible, street cats and strays (forgotten felines).
No soy fan de este payaso de el look, pero tengo que confesar que este sofá de cuero rojo es para morirse! Especialmente me encantan todas las tiendas de enpeños y de thrift que benefician causas maravillosas como "Regalos El Eligido de la Camada," cuyas ganancias todas van para esterilizar y rescatar gatos callejeros. 
An afternoon of feasting the eyes on art, antiques and general ambiance calls for a stop at the Petaluma Pie Company. We asked for the most popular pie this season and were told it was the Apple Crumble and the Cardamon Pear. We chose the latter.

Una tarde de festín de arte, antigüedades y ambiente general para los ojos requiere una parada en Petaluma Pie Company para tartas. Preguntamos por la tarta más popular en esta temporada y nos dijeron que eran la de Manzana Desmenuzada y la de Pera al Cardamón. Nosotros elegimos la última.
The description for the Pear Ginger and Cardamom pie read: Festive pears are in season now. Asian Pear, Bosc or Bartlett spiced with a touch of cardamom, fresh grated ginger and crystallised ginger and brown sugar in a buttery flaky crust. It was every bit as good as the recommendation.

La descripción para la Tarta de Pera de Jengibre y Cardamomo:  Peras festivas están ahora en su temporada. Las asiáticas, Bosc o Bartlett espaciadas de cardamomo, jengibre recién rallado y cristalizado y azúcar moreno en una masa de hojaldre. Fue igual de buena como la recomendación.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Nature Walk, Santa Rosa at Dawn

Of Oaks and Bird Song, Sara Farrell
It’s before dawn, and I pick my way half blindly through the trees. I had awakened before the sun and
made the short journey over to a section of Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa. This section of the park, along the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Trail is comprised of rolling green hills and oaks. I quickly scamper over to sit in the grass. In front of me lies a little canyon with hills rising up on either side, covered in trees and bisected with a trail.

Seeing –
Sitting in my grassy perch, I feel the oak trees leering over me ominously as the cloud infused navy blue sky emerges from the black stillness. Robed in Spanish moss the oaks menacingly stand like creepy wooden ghouls feeding on fear and the frozen fingers of a solitary student. In three blinks of my tired eyes, the sky turns from navy to cotton candy blue. The grey, lifeless world is splashed with the first monochromatic rays of light. Three more blinks and the sky is a slightly blinding grayish white with pink and purple clouds crowning the hillsides. The Spanish moss sways slightly in the breeze as it hugs the now ancient, wise and woefully sad grandfather oaks. The first birds to catch my eye are Mr. and Mrs. Crow. Slowly they flap across the sky, calling out loving insults to each other. They are coarse and rude and loud and passionate. At my feet, the trail is set like cobble stones in perfect disarray. Suddenly at 7:12am, like the boom of a shotgun blast, the sky explodes into pink and orange. Fluffy clouds dance sporadically across the watercolor stage and the twisted skeletons of the grandfather oaks seem painted on its surface. As I look out across the little canyon, I marvel at the moss covered trees. They seem like they are evergreen despite being bare and leafless. At my feet, I note the grass, its green blades blanketing the hillside. Yet there are more! I count eight different grasses mixed within the fallen leaves, branches, stray rocks and staggered fence post. First, there are long seaweed-like grasses. Second, there are short, vibrantly green shoots, hell bent on reaching the sky. Third, there are tiny parsley-looking grasses, watching the runners and mountain bikers pass over the trail. Fourth, there are leafy, salad like low growth grasses. Fifth, there are miniature Jurassic era vine grasses left over from the age of miniature stegosaurus. Sixth, there are long dead looking twigs with small buds of growth. Seventh, there are red shoots with single leaves saluting the rising sun. And eighth, there are pointy plants which are hard to describe, but look like they would have a bitter taste. After sketching each grass into my notebook I look up at the sky. The clouds have advanced their positions, and have set sedge to the sky turning it a steady grey for the rest of the morning.

Hearing –
In the dark, the only sound that can be heard is the systematic call of an owl. The call sets the darkness on edge and propels the dawn to daybreak. As if to contradict the owls mournful cooing, turkeys in the close distance laugh out loud. I don’t know what turkeys have to chuckle at so early in the morning, yet their voices echo through the little canyon with pure delight. From scattered tree tops sparrows play phone tag, calling each other and decoding the messages with unknown accuracy. As I sit listening intently to the symphony taking place just out of eye shot, my stomach chimes in and begins its own morning sun salutation. The gargle of hunger however, is nowhere as interesting as the concert that is unfolding before me. Wings flutter unseen through the trees and the birds burst into a crescendo of glorious song as the dawn breaks into light. The owl is silent now, the turkeys giggle everyone in a while and even the sparrows start to settle into the morning routine. The light tinkle of a dog’s collar warns of a walker crunching swiftly down the trail. A plane lazily hums by. I can hear a woodpecker drumming in sets against his percussion log impregnated with nuts and seeds. By 7:45am the pop song of car horns and idling motors kicks the symphony out, taking control of the soundtrack of the day.

Touching –
After sitting in one position soaking in the sights and sounds for the last hour, my foot has fallen asleep. I stiffly move my ankle around in an attempt to end the ever stinging needles waging war on my skin. Looking around myself I observe what is close at hand. The grass I sit upon is somewhat poky and crunchy. Some Spanish moss that has fallen to the ground is also crunchy and dry. Lifting my hand up to touch the oak tree to my right, I expect to feel more crunchiness. The bark itself feels stern, indifferent and unmoved by the warmth of my fingers. The moss clinging to the back however, greets my fingertips with a velvety softness which is shocking. I pick up a small branch, broken and also covered in moss. Again the moss is soft and velvety. I squeeze it in my hand, feeling the foam like quality of the lichen. Its soft and homey. So homey in fact, that as I turn the branch over there is a honey brown cocoon tucked away within its insulation. I gently poke the cocoon, to watch it spin around within its bed to get comfortable before I place it carefully back on the ground with great tenderness. I then pick up a small rock. It is rough, with bubbles throughout. I run my fingers across its surface to feel the dips and bumps of the igneous stone. Towards the top end of the rock, Mama Spider, and yet so feared. Your silken web is the tactile equivalent of a bomb siren, warning me of your beautifully fearful presence.

Smelling –
Does breathing deeply help you smell better? I take deep, oxygen rich, smell hunting breaths until my chest can no longer expand and then exhale quickly all at once. The first thing I smell is my coffee. Can I actually smell my coffee, no longer steaming by my side? Or does my brain just think I can smell it? The roasty punch of dark black coffee, whether a fragment of my olfactory imagination or a true sense, whiffs up to me. Almost instinctively, my nose goes off in search of other smells. I smell decay. The brown skeleton leaves shed by the grandfather oaks are sinking into the dirt, to become dirt. I smell moisture. The grasses and plants open their photosynthetic cells to receive the coming light. The little creek trickling down the canyon fills the air with water molecules which sing out of life and living. I smell truth. Pressing my nose against an oak, I can smell the years passed. The dusty dry droughts, the root soaking rains. The bark smells like summer sun shining and white frosty winter chill. The oak smells deep and complex like a well-aged cabernet sauvignon. I’m no sommelier, so the subtle hints escape my untrained nose and I focus my attention on the earthy truth of the oaks wisdom. I smell people. Up the canyon someone must be burning a wood fire. I try to hone all my brain power on the beautiful scent, which is one of my favorites. But, it comes and goes, teasing me as I imagine the flames licking the logs of an unknown hearth. I breathe in as deeply as I can. No more distinctively separate smells enter my nose and instead I smell the whole of the place. And it smells like peace, like sorrow, like restlessness, like love.