Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Books

Should  illustrations be limited to books for children?  Most people think so but  not Rebecca Dautremer (Gap, France, 1972), illustrator  and considered to be a "best seller"  for the number of sales generated  in her country, and author of books for all ages  specially for those who shun the childish books perhaps pretentious of their imaginative skills.

Rebecca is in Madrid for the Book Fair to present her recent book "Alice in Wonderland" that calls  attention for its illustrations, tact and even smell.

For this author, an image not only changes but also enhances the vision of the text.  It makes the reader see  from another perspective.

Source:  El Mundo
Lucía González | Madrid
31 of May, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Orchids of Ron & Bea

This is a picture of Ron's Phalaenopsis which at first he was going to throw away because it  seemed to be dying, but look how it is now, worthy to be displayed in an ad.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fiestas in May

In Spain as well as in the Philippines, May is a festive month and  in the town where I live, our fiestas started with fireworks last Friday.  We have all sorts of rides and also some small shops around.

Traditionally, fiestas were held to honor a saint, but nowadays, they seem to be observed  as an occasion  for the teens to gather and drink leaving their  signatures in  trash and others that cannot be  mentioned.
But in the Philippines, in Gumaca,  one of the oldest towns in the country, the  Baluarte Festival, probably one of the merriest and grandest fiestas in honor of St. Isidore, the people celebrate to show their gratitude for the bounty of the land by building big bamboo arches called "baluarte" a bastion decorated  with chandeliers made of bamboo, to display  their own harvests and other embellishments, called araña.

This is the araña

Display in  Baluarte


The festivities start Saturday night with the “Gimikan” and “Yubakan,” a competition among barangays on the best yubak and street dance. A traditional Gumaca delicacy, yubak is made of cassava or a certain type of banana "saba" mashed with coconut, peanut butter, sugar and milk.  Guests move from one baluarte to another to taste the yubak and see the youth perform their dance moves, with everything including the chairs and sound system mobile so the party hops from one baluarte to another. 

And contrary to Spain,  amid all the festivities,  among the people of Gumaca  their genuine effort to honor their patron saint, as well as their pride in the harvest and bounty of their land still remain.

Excerpts from the report by:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Parque Europa

Parque Europa  lodges one of  the biggest areas of greens and recreation in   Torrejon de Ardoz. It extends over a surface of 233,000 m2, and has the reproduction of the most emblematic monuments of the main European cities as well as   different forms of recreation (with picnic grounds)  and multi-adventure areas, including small parks for dogs dividing the area between small ones and big ones, and best of all, it has a cybernetics fountain which is unique in all Europe, where every week-end at 11:00 pm they present a show of water, light and sound.

Last night, Ron and me marvelled in watching the show, which is free and so is the entrance to the park.  It is a place that the residents of Torrejon de Ardoz can be proud of and  is an excellent achievement of  their city mayor, Pedro Roldan who in the latest elections renewed his post with majority votes.

The 17 monuments that can be seen in the park are as follows:

Muro de Berlín-                     Wall of Berlin 
Puerta de Brandenburgo-  Gate of Berlin
Teatro Griego-                       Greek theater
Plaza de España  -               Spanish Plaza
La Sirenita-                             Mermaid in Copenhagen
Barco Vikingo-                      Viking Boat from Sweden
Fontana de Trevi-                 Italian Fountain of Trevi
David de Miguel Ángel-       Florence David of Michelangelo
Torre Eiffel-                            Eiffel Tower in France
Manneken Pis-                      Little Man Pee of Brussels
Plaza de Europa-                  European Plaza
Atomium-                                Expo 1958 Brussels
Puerta de Alcalá-                  Gate Entrance in Madrid
Torre de Belém-                    Belem Tower Portugal
Puente de Londres-             London Tower, UK
Puente de Van Gogh-          Bridge of Van Gogh
(First Painting) France
Molinos Holandeses-          Holland's windmills

It was a gratifying experience and I promise to visit it again during the day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not without my dog

This is an advertisement published  in 1939 for  a British  railway to encourage pet  owners to  travel by train  accompanied by their pets.  However after several years, travelling in Spain with your best friend continues to be a problem.

All in all including rural houses and campings, the number of    establishments now add up to 8,200 according to Maria Azcargota, manager of  Affinity Pet Care,   whose main aim is to promote the integration of animals in society. However, she claims that Spain is still far behind France or Germany.

The first Travel Guide with  Animals for Company, was published with the idea that dogs were abandoned in summer when  their owners had to go on vacation.  But then statistics showed that the most common reasons were the lack of interest for the puppy  or economic and behavioral  problems.

As obtained from the  same source, hotels are not just admitting them, but more so they are providing more services which include walking them, veterinaries or "dogsitters" after all, they charge  an average amount between 10 to 30 Euros per day for the stay of the dog.

These days, hotels and restaurants are now offering chairs specially designed for dogs, non-alcoholic beer that tastes like bone, or beds with canopy.

Source: Blog of Patricia Gosálvez in El País, May 27, 2011.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dreams, Life, Musing, Poem


               Sometimes ,
               When I am on the verge of breaking down,
               My mind would drift far to a place so idyllic,
               Would I be the lucky one to roam its beauty,
               Would I have a moment to inhale its pure air,
               And swim along the silver and golden fishes
               in its crystal clear water, heaven knows how,
               Idyllic it is that I'd never know the differences
               of day and night, for both have equal beauty.
               The stars are diamonds that brighten up the night,
               The sun is ever giving and ensuring life to go on,
               This is where I yearn to be, in an idyllic place,
               Where flowers smile everyday and happiness
               is everywhere, everything a stunning beauty.

My dream of dreams,
Balqis Part and Parcel of Life
Sunday 22nd May '11


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Art of Russian Artist Nicolai Senin

Naturaleza encantada. Galería Éboli (Plaza Ramales).  From  26 of May to  24 of June

Senin (1954-2011), whose enchanting paintings are in  private collections distributed in  different countries as USA, France, Russia or Spain, combine a subtle mixture between what is conventional and  the modernity depicting  nature in vibrant colors and beauty. 
"Spain has given color to my palette.  In the same way that Gauguin or Van Gogh received influence from  their stay  in the south of France, Spain has  influenced me with its  color and diversity; every part of Spain is a different country",  as affirmed by  this painter borne in  Moscow but who  lived  in Spain for 26 years.

Admirer of Velázquez, Cézanne and Modigliani, a keen observer of the sun and sceneries, what stands out in his art is "his wish to see beauty in everything", and to show it too.

Excerpts from  El Mundo.es by Laura Caso, May 24, 2011.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Watch a bullfight in Madrid

Bullfight in Madrid  begins in March and ends in October.  Although Spain is famous for its bullfighting, I have never seen one since I detest what some people think is a way of entertainment.  But what does a BULLFIGHT consist of??

In a bullfight, there are usually three bullfighters against 2 bulls each.  And their turns are determined according to their date of "alternativa" (similar to a degree).  It starts with the paseillo, where all those that perform directly take a parade before the public.  This consists of the "alguacillos" mounted on horses to cross the plaza to address themselves to the Presidency and symbolically solicit the key to the "puerta de los toriles" (where the bulls are kept).  Behind are the three bullfighters followed by the members of their team of three "banderilleros" (one who puts a stick in the bull's neck) and two  picks (one on horseback with a pointed pole of 2 meters whose purpose is to prick the animal so it cannot raise its head when attacking the bullfighter).  At the end of the cortege are the so called "mozos" and "mulas de arrastres" (who are in charge, once the bull is dead, to remove it from the plaza).

Once the key has been delivered and the cortege has left, the door keeping the bull is then opened.  As the bull enters the plaza,  the bullfight begins.  The bullfighter will maintain a dialogue with the bull and at the same time fight against the animal to try to win it.

The bullfight is divided in three parts called "tercios" highlighted with the sound of a clarion.  In the first part, the bullfighter uses his cape.  Then the sound of a clarion signals the two picks to join, situating each one of them in the extreme of the plaza, but merely to bring that "luck".
In the second part, is what they call "suerte de banderillas" wherein the "banderilleros" (one who puts a stick in the bull's neck) inserts to the bull's neck with  three pairs of "banderillas" (a barbed dart).

Then, the bullfighter ejecutes the "suerte suprema", wherein he will fight with the crutch instead of the cape, to finally, take the sword and kill the  bull.  This is the most difficult part of his task, since at these moments he should be able to get the bull to attack him, and just in the middle of this attack, he should find the moment to plunge the sword in the heart of the bull and kill it.  This is the part when the bullfighter openly exposes his body before the bull.  It is a fight that is considered to be a live and ephemeral art.  In a matter of seconds, he should concentrate in hitting without fail a concrete point of the bull while it is in movement.

If the series of passes, as well as having killed the bull with one sword thrust, have transmitted to the public all the cumulus of  positive sensations, the public awards him.  The trophys are one or two ears of the bull that was killed, and as a maximum, the tail.

The public solicits the trophies from the president by moving  symbolically their handkerchief, while the president of the plaza is the one who makes the final  decision,  whether to accede or not to the public petition.  The highest honor to a bullfighter after an extraordinary performance is to leave the plaza lifted on the shoulders by a multitude.

The Associations for the protection of animals have tried to abolish this kind of spectacle but to no avail until now since bullfighting has become deeply rooted in  Spanish culture.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Pressed Flower Art

These are some of the things that I do.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mothers Day

Mothers day is a very special day for me because in a way it measures one's success as a mother when her siblings are able to show their appreciation for what has been done and is still being carried out on a day to day basis on their behalf perhaps unmindful of distances, but mainly in consideration of their own good interest, independently of the sacrifices which turn out to be a pleasure more often instead.  And more  than the appreciation which is given mostly as a material favor, which undeniably proportions cheers and invokes generosity, it is the recognition of the day with special thoughts for the mother, memories of the kind deeds and happy moments shared of joys and sometimes probably sadness, but what really ends up to reinforce family ties.  Our mother is our source of life, let us always remember that.  My mother could not be just any other more special and inspite of being 87 and still counting more healthy years, she lives life to full glory.

As for me, celebration was different since I only had Ron to celebrate it with, Mel having to take care of other tasks in UK.  But it is not the first time I have celebrated it only with Ron, my constant buddy.  

Here is how we celebrated Mothers' Day this year.  Ron came to fetch me to take me to Chinchón and he came with a bouquet of flowers (Ron and Mel) which I initially left in a basin to keep them fresh since I did not have a vase big enough to put them all in one place.

The day was quite cloudy with threats of rain but the temperature was just right for a light outfit. It was not too far to go to Chinchon, about an hour ride from our place of about 45 kms.

There were a lot of people in the plaza, the best part of the place.  After taking some pictures in the plaza, we went to go up to a higher level where the church is and we saw some of the images clothed with long gowns with beaded motifs and embroideries in subtle colors. Quite impressive and I took some time to pray for everyone in the family. We were surprised by a procession as we came out from the church. It seemed to be the procession of the cross so we spent sometime to observe it. Then off to go for lunch.

Again, Ron chose to take me to a Parador. It was not too amazing in architecture but the food was exquisite. We had the special Mothers Day Menu with the following food:

For a starter, we had a special Iberian ham, goose paté rolled in almonds and smoked salmon with goat cheese. Then a cold creme of potato, leeks and mustard with a tail of big dressed shrimp. It was followed by fried floured  hake fish  in a bed of red pepper and onions topped with creme of chick peas cooked with cider. For the main entree: pork sirloin inside a puff pastry garnished with couscous of broccoli and cauliflower.  For dessert, we had chocolate mousse with sweetened milk, lemon and canela (leche merengada). The wine that they served us was a Castroviejo Rioja Reserva of 2005, with mineral water, tea for me and coffee with milk for Ron. Everything was yummy, yummy.

After which we took a stroll in their garden and then back to reality. We enjoyed a great day.

Trip to Malaga

On our last day Maundy Thursday April 22nd, we decided to leave early for Malaga.  Mel had some friends there that she wanted to meet.  At first it was difficult to meet with them because of the crowd due to the procession and being some of them British, they are not used to such a caotic situation.  But we had no problem visiting what we could of Malaga in the meantime.  It seemed to be a bleek day with heavy rains and  all the arrangements for the procession like seats unlikely to be sold to watch the procession, threatened  to ruin the business of some.  We managed to find a cozy and excellent bar to have a quick tapa lunch with the famous fried eggplant dipped in flour with cane honey on top.  Hmmn deliciously done.  I was in a hurry because I wanted to visit the newly opened Thyssen Modern Art Museum just around the block.  And I managed to see it with Ron.  Such a pleasure for the eyes!  Mel in the meantime preferred to take a walking tour of what she could by herself.

Here are some pictures of Malaga.



Trip to Torrox

After the procession, Ron thought we had enough time to go to a nearby town called Torrox.  It is a very quaint small town but it has its enchanting decorated floral streets and they actually have won prizes for such decorations.  The visit although short was gratifying specially because the people were nice and accomodating telling us that we can take all the pictures as we pleased.  Here is what Torrox looks like.


Parking on our way back to Nerja became a problem because of the procession.  Ron could not find any place to park after making several rounds so Mel and me decided to get off and buy our dinner for take out.  It took a while before Ron could park and even so it was not a convenient place since the next day we needed the car to be near the apartment to have our stuff loaded.  But then he decided to wake up early the following day to be able to park it closer for Mel and my convenience.  That is a gentleman!

Procession in Nerja

It was quite an experience to watch procession in Nerja.  I did not realize that children would be attending it carrying their own load.  I happened to be near a young girl of about 10 yrs old to ask her if the pole that she was carrying did not bother her.  And she told me it did but she had to carry it.  I was also amazed at the women portraying the bereaved widows dressed up elegantly in black with their high heel shoes and carrying their poles.  Likewise amazing is the fact that not only men but also women carry the images on their shoulders and how they swayed as they carried the images.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Last day in Nerja

In  our last day in Nerja, Norma a friend had invited us for lunch which we willingly accepted.  We  went around to discover more of Nerja while we waited for lunch  time.  We were hoping to go to  the flea market but instead we were led to  the Plaza Verano Azul,  inaugurated in 2001 in honor of a famous  Spanish TV series in the 1980's and being  filmed in Nerja, made the town known all over Spain.   Of tourists interests, we saw the boat "La Dorada" that appeared in the television series. 

Time for lunch.  Norma prepared some anchovies and potato chips while she was getting ready with the rest of the meal consisting mainly of grilled fish and vegetables.   Ron kept  himself busy with the help of the appetizers.  
Norma's Dog

Cooking with Norma

Mel trying to help with the cooking

We had a very good lunch after which we went for a siesta while waiting for the procession to start.  Then we went to see the procession where Norma participated.

I was amazed to see how the children had been so well-behaved while they took their own loads. I never have seen children participate before in this type of processions. I also observed the gaits and the elegance of how the young adults, both men and women separately carried the floats on their shoulders. It was a memorable sight to always recall.

Trip to Frigiliana

Ron took us to Frigiliana on the third day.  Frigiliana is within the municipality of the province of Malaga.  From this town you get a unique  panoramic coastal view.  We saw several interesting places in Frigiliana.  We had a bad experience though with a lady that owned the shop that sells pretty aprons.  While Ron and Mel were posing behind the aprons, a lady approached reprimanding them because they did not ask permission to pose behind her aprons.  (She probably thought we were going to copy her designs).  Ron and Mel did not know how to react but apologized immediately.  I did too.  The lady accepted our apologies and told me to continue to take the picture.  We really were no longer in the mood, but what the heck, after all she gave us her consent.  If not for that, the day in Frigiliana would have been perfect.

Here are more pictures of Frigiliana:



Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Birthday in Nerja

We had lunch in the Parador of Nerja to celebrate my birthday and hereunder  is what we ate.  As appetizers, we had cold avocado soup, bread and tomato cream soup with diced Melva fish and fried floured codfish.  Among others, we had the "Pumpkin Paprika", a soup of the XVI century, added to which are the Victorian anchovies that can only be fished in Eastern Malaga.   The main plate consisted of tender goat meat with garlic and wine garnished with aromatic herbs and paprika.  And for dessert, we had sweet potato ice-cream topped with sugar cane honey.  If there is any dessert defining Nerja, this is the cane honey.  This is a local product, produced by the only cane honey factory existing in Europe, located in Frigiliana, close to Nerja. (Information taken from Arte Breve de Cocina  Parador de Nerja).

We chose from the menu the "Ruta Gastronomica", (gastronomic route)  where for 29 Euros you can eat a set menu of the typical regional food at a Parador, translated as  a  hotel situated in  rural beauty spots and  places of historical interest often in converted castles and monasteries and aiming to provide a  high standard of accomodation with the emphasis on local character and cuisine of the region.

Appetizers, anyone???
Mel's Main Course
First Plate
My Second Plate