Saturday, May 13, 2017

Our Lady of Castrotierra

Enrique was out of bed before dawn and off to gather and lead his group of Cosamai "kids" to join the short pilgrimage to Castrotierra to accompany La Virgen, Our Lady of Castrotierra, from Astorga back to her home church after her visit to our city, an event that usually occurs every seven years. I journey with the crowds the last time, but stayed behind today with University work to do. So sleepy I snuggled back into the covers after kissing Enrique good-bye, read the news and dozed off until I was reawakened by lovely singing in the street below. Thousands of people slowly walking down our street, ahead, behind and carrying the Virgen of Castrotierra on their shoulders. This is after all a place of strong tradition.

Photos - Lucía de la Luna, Astorga Redacción 

Photos - Victorina Alonso Fernández

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Día de la Madre

Feliz Día de la Madre! Spanish Mother's Day comes a week earlier than in the States. It always leaves me blue, as if one Mother's Day weren't bad enough, I have two. But, the sun came through the clouds, and with its reappearance I noticed seedlings on the balcony pushing through the soil, sparrows visiting on the rail, swallows flitting and a festive feeling by all who passed below on the street. Before I could send a couple notes to loved ones, the doorbell rang and a winsome precious young woman held multiple gifts and letter of love for me. I can see her hand holding up my package. It seems she's whole-heartedly adopted me and I've undeniably become her God-mother; spoiled in her adoration. Love isn't always where you're looking. And if you're not careful you might miss the beauty right before your eyes. This was a beautiful day. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Balcony Gardening May

Balcony Gardening in Northern Spain is an impossibility at worst and a challenge at best. Cruel and unexpected frosts and snow can suddenly freeze any uncovered plants and damage tender new growth that might emerge after the frigid winter. Most people in the north don't make any great effort to grow greenery on their balconies, leaving the streets somewhat hostile looking in comparison to their southern neighbours.

It's already May and I persist stubbornly. If I can't get the plants and flowers to grow now, there won't be any for us to enjoy the short summer.
Soaked sweet pea seeds from last year and a few new ones I purchased to plant the following day.

Only a few have raised their heads two weeks later. The temperatures are just too variable with some serious cold weather in between.

A stick of a hydrangea has survived the winter, seems to like its new glazed pot and is leafing out beautifully.
The chrysanthemum became spindly and so I tied it with twine. It's from All Saint's Day two years ago, sometimes gets infested with black aphids and seems like it's going to die and then is like the Resurrection Lily and reappears all over again.

Gelatarium Astorga

We returned from our holidays and look who we found when we got back! It's true, the long drab grey winter is over and proof of that is that Liana has reappeared with the finest Italian ice-cream this side of ol' Italy!

É buono.. é buono...

Friday, April 28, 2017

To Market, To Market

To market, to market ... not to buy a fat pig, but rather a full array of delicious produce. Most everything is local and in season. The vendor asked if I wanted bags for each item weighed, but happily smiled when I refused, saying, "That's how we used to do it." And she immediately began to artfully layer everything into my purple Rolser, the must-have market cart in Europe, onions, leeks and oranges at the bottom, and continuing with me handing her my purchase until she topped it off with loquats, avocados and red-leaf lettuce.There's such a close to nature, satisfied feeling buying your food this way. 
#healthyliving #localgrown #vegansofspain #vegan #lafruteria #noplastic #rolser #ilovevegtables #natural

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day Portland

"Science is not partisan. Facts are not partisan." - Curt Waltman, March for Science organizer.

Visiting Portland's Waterfront Park on Earth Day and for the March for Science was a perfect last day in the city. There were celebrations and a march throughout this green city known for locals' passions for recycling, renewable energy, efficient public transport including bicycle commuting, sustainably designed buildings and more. Took lots of photos of people who showed up with their signs, undaunted by the rain to to show their commitment to protecting the Earth and her resources. 

#portland #environment #medioambiente#earthday #green #renewableenergy#sustainability #urbanoasis#portlandsaturdaymarket #sciencemarch
Portland Saturday Market.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


\fron-DES-uh ns\
1. leafage; foliage.
2. the process or period of putting forth leaves, as a tree, plant, or the like.

... they continued their journey under the frondescence of the mountain forests.
-- Cecilia Dart-Thornton, The Ill-Made Mute, 2001

Mutilando los árboles de León
Echando herbicidas

Always stand by trees.

Monday, April 10, 2017

When You Have Just One Day

When you have just one overnight, one day only, you plan the best. You begin with a lovely, slow Sunday just eating, playing games, and exploring together. And that's what Mi'ja, her partner, Pat, Enrique and I did. They organized a really nice day that, in her note to me, "included super vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants, all locally farmed, and famed for deliciousness." Enrique, if he hadn't noticed before, discovered that, just like in Spain, it's all about the food.

The links take you to the actual names and places, that include menus for the below mentioned fabulous eateries.

Most of the following quotes are by Alexander Barrett, This is Portland: The City You've Heard You Should Like
"This is Portland is a first-hand look at a city that people can't seem to stop talking about. It's a guidebook of sorts, but not to restaurants and sightseeing. Instead, Alexander Barrett is your friendly guide to the quirky characters and atmosphere of Portland, Oregon and how fun, beautiful, and ridiculous it can be. With its approachable, often hilarious tone, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about bikes, beards, beers, rain, and everything else important about the city you've heard you should like." - Amazon Review

11:30am - Met for brunch at Harlow's (3632 SE Hawthorne St)

Harlow's was awesome for lunch. Enrique and I were lucky since we had happened in just few days earlier when we stopped with my dear friend Wendy for a coffee and hot chocolate.

12-5ish - Explore Hawthorne District! Lots of thrift stores, coffee shops, book stores, very "Portland" vibes. Good thing for the GPS most of our visit. It wasn't necessary once we got to Hawthorne Street, though. No matter where we looked there was something to see. We visited the vintage shops a bit and had fun with the funky, but being old thrifters we weren't having the high prices. What we were having was enjoying the atmosphere, the kind of apparel that earns Portland it's reputation.

Keep Portland Weird - #1Bumper Sticker
Locals don't think it's weird or know what it means exactly - the city is too nice. Maybe it's the annual naked bike ride, aging hippies, weird hats, art and punk shows... 

Standing in line to have Fight Club signed by author Chuck Palahniuk. After some wait we finally made it into Memento, but there discovered that the signing was only for those who also opted to purchase Bait, his new colouring book for adults. *Emigrantes was a book I gifted Mi'ja, an early birthday present of sorts, the Spanish version of The Arrival, by Shaun Tan:
*In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.
Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy. -

The kind of place to bring Spanish cards for Chinchón and play them at a donut & coffee shop.

Hawthorne v. Belmont
H. by far the hippest street in the SE and home of every bad P. stereotype: Lazy 20 somethings, crazy homeless, the dirtiest hippies, the loudest petitioners, buskers every 10 ft., fashionable parents w/widest strollers available in the US, ALL out there! Makes you feel like a raging neo-conservative, "Get a job!, Hey try some birth control!" Belmont on the other hand is the good Portland stereotype: great restaurants, green, cool parents w/normal strollers, ...

At the Cider Ale House Enrique and I had our first "Flight" of drinks.

For dinner head over to the Pearl District at Verde Cocina (524 NW 14th St)
Ice-cream after dinner at Salt and Straw

Monday 4/10
9am - Breakfast of cream-of-wheat and fruit at our Airbnb.
11:30am - Head to airport for good-byes.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Japanese Gardens; A Photo Journey

It was raining and drizzling the morning we walked the Portland Japanese Gardens, yet, in reflexion, we hardly remember the wet and cold, but rather a haven of serenity.

A traditional Japanese garden occupying 9.1 acres with stone pathways, bamboo and stone water fountains, graceful Japanese maples, genuine lanterns and tea houses all with moss touches tucked away among five garden styles in Washington Park.

Soon it will be even more splendid . There was still a lot of construction going on with its Cultural Expansion Project when we were there, but that didn't dim our experience. It was exquisite, every square inch.