Friday, June 1, 2018

The Beaches in Northern Galicia

A few weeks ago, Rajan and I drove up to the northern coast to see the  beaches called "Os Catedrais" in Galego and "Los Catedrales" in Castilian, inspired by a trip we took last year with our friends, Terri & David. They are called 'cathedrals" because the waves have worn away the rocks and created caves like chambers in a cathedral, but it is only safe to go into them when the tide is out. This is what they looked like last year:

But on this trip, we did not get there at the correct time for going to the caves. We seemed to keep getting high tide. But we had a lovely time, since we love beaches anyway. We stayed at a nice hotel right on a nearby beach, walked to a restaurant we had enjoyed for lunch, and walked back, and took tons of pictures along the way. Here is what the cathedral beach looked like this time:

So we contented ourselves with photos from above.

Nonetheless, we loved the walk along the beaches and waterfront; sometimes along the road, back to out hotel, O Refugio. Here are some scenic pictures along the way:

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I particularly love the crazy architecture of the lavender house. It's actually a popular architecture in Galicia.

And there's a lot of pasture land away from the beaches.

Once back at the hotel, we enjoyed a glass of wine indoors and talked over our day. The hotel was very reasonable, perhaps because Galicia is reasonable, but also because we were off-season (it was still May) and mid-week (Wednesday night). But we had a lovely, clean, charming small room overlooking the ocean, and the management and staff were cheery and warm and welcoming, wanting to know all about us. Here are some pictures from the grounds:

The glass roof you see is the top of the outdoor part of the  restaurant and was right below our room's  window.

And this railing you see, above the glass roof was right outside our window.

 Me after we got back from our long walk, and Rajan the next morning at breakfast, trying to read one of the Spanish newspapers. (You'd be surprised how much news we are actually able to glean now and then! 😊) 

We also learned on this trip that one one of the beaches along a drive there is a small fishing village with wonderful reviews of the food. And at another spot along the drive, there is an ancient castro (and you know how we love ancient castros!) So that is on the travel list for our next trip to Galicia.

How about you? Do you love beaches? Fresh fish for dinner? Spooky caves?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Trip to an Ancient Castro

Last week we visited an ancient "castro" with friends David & Terry about an hour and a half's drive away. It's called Castro Maior (maior being Galegan for "major"— Major Castro; it's also spelled Castro Mayor in Castilian). A castro is an ancient, pre-Roman fort city, Celtic in origin from all I can read. We approached it via a faint road just off an offshoot of the  "Camino" (one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago); mainly uphill, and bordered by the beautiful combination of purple heather and yellow broom you see here. (They are just coming into their own in this very late spring. )

This castro is 2400 years old, and what you see are the remains of what must have been ground floors of the various households in what was basically a village structure, but the method of building involved houses building onto houses with adjoining walls, and a main entrance into the village, with a path or lane going around the edge of the village, but cutting through at places between buildings—not unlike the present plans in the present villages (which all are old and follow an ancient tradition).

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A "castro" was the whole village, with stone foundations and thatched roofs (the thatching being of the barley that grew all around.) The village was surrounded by farmland, but there was only one main entrance into the castro, and there were also storage areas that served the entire castro. Above are some pictures of the ruins were were privileged to wander among.

Below, you can get a good idea of the stone work. The stones in that area are quite flat, not "block-shade" like some of the rock that forms the foundations of more recent (but old) buildings.

        To me, it was awesome to think I was touching stones someone had touched 2400 years ago. But those of you who have read earlier posts know I get "mystical" about ancient buildings. They stir something deep inside me, and make me imagine the past. Our friend, Terri said she could actually "see" (figuratively) scenes in these ancient little rooms. It is amazing to see how they have stood the test of time. The thatched roofs are gone, but the foundations remain.

After our walk-around the castro, we went to another town called Portomarin for lunch. Portomarin is quite charming. My husband likes to photograph old churches, and we were rather captivated by the square architecture of this one right in the center of town.

    We were also excited to learn that there is another castro closer to us in a village called Fion that we can visit. If we find time to go see it, you can bet we will take more pictures.

How about you? Do old buildings and ruins stir something inside you and take you back to the past? Do you like historic architecture? Do you like to imagine the past when you visit a place? 

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Writerly Week

Even though we are on "vacation", in Galicia once again, I work part-time most days, either writing or doing research. Rajan takes pictures, mostly black and white, that he develops when we get home. I take my point and shoot camera everywhere and snap less professional shots. I couldn't resist this one on the left: in the far distance on the hill is the Parador of Monforte de Lemos, the town that has built up all around it, below.

Meanwhile, this has been a "writerly" time for me. First, shortly after our arrival two and a half weeks ago, I received word that a short story I had submitted was accepted. The title is "Going Home" and it was published on April 13th by a cool magazine called Page & Spine. If you are interested, you can read it HERE. 

Second,  I've been doing research for a character in my current WIP. In my  book, one of the characters turned out to have been in Vaudeville in  her earlier years. (I'm sure all you writers know how that happens. You suddenly learn something about a character you didn't know earlier. She let me know she had been in Vaudeville.)

Well, I knew next to nothing about Vaudeville, and I love research, so off I went to find information. I've been mesmerized by a book called No Applause — Just Throw Money, by Trav S. D. (Yup, that's the author's name.) The book is expensive online, unless you go for a used copy. I did, and I was fortunate to get copy in pristine condition. Here's the book:

The writing is fast-paced, humorous, and at times brutally honest about the racism and prejudice that permeated the industry. (Vaudeville was one of the few avenues open to minorities and immigrants, but the actors themselves played off their own stereotypes in the early days.) The author gives a comprehensive history. I hadn't realized the differences between music halls, saloon variety shows, or how gradually respectability was worked into shows that once were a step away from medicine shows, freak shows, etc. They had an unsavory past, too, thanks to after-hours entertainment before they gradually evolved into what became known as Vaudeville. Then Vaudeville became cut-throat business for managers, theater owners, agents, etc., until the movies came along. I'm only halfway through the book, but since one of my characters wants to be a movie star, I'm glad to see this book has information about the early days of the movies as well.

Third, while doing the research I need for this character, I've been writing poetry. A blog friend mentioned a poetry challenge for April ( National Poetry Month). (She writes Haiku and has a wonderful blog called Words and Such; she always has rewarding posts, which you can read HERE.

The challenge was actually a contest: You register to write 30 poems in 30 days around a theme of your choice. At the end of it, you have a chapbook. I started on April 1st, but I didn't register in time, so I missed the contest. Still, I gave myself the challenge anyway, because I felt I needed to be writing while I worked out what I was learning in my research in terms of the characters. I felt I couldn't afford not to be writing.

Well, "I did it!" I wrote 30 poems in 30 days. Today I wrote my 30th. I'm done! Whew! But it really was a nice way to start each day. I actually woke up many mornings thinking about the new poem for the day.

How about you? Do you like poetry? Do you like research? Do your characters surprise you with revelations about themselves? Have you ever written a chapbook? (If so, I'd sure like some information about how to put one together.)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dragonella is Back — This Time in Spanish!


Good News: Dragonella has been translated into Spanish, and I'm so excited about it. \

You can find it on Amazon HERE:

This came about in a wonderful way. During our last trip to Spain, I musingly said to our good friend, Terri Anderson, "I wish I knew someone who could translate Dragonella into Spanish." I had already checked with the publishers, and they were interested, but an earlier prospect fell through.

As it turned out, Terri knew just the right person—Carla López Piñeiro—and Rajan and I had already met her. Terri facilitated a new meeting with Carla, who read the picture book through in English, and then said, yes, she'd love to translate it. Now that the book has been released, Carla was kind enough to answer some interview questions, which you will find below the pictures.

Carla López Piñeiro, Translator
Terri Anderson,

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I am from a small village in Galicia, a region of the North of Spain.

2. As a native Spanish speaker, you are very fluent in English. Had you studied English for a long time?
Thank you! The truth is I have been studying English almost during all my live. I learnt the first basic vocabulary and structure at Primary School, and then continued studying at High School and the University. But I experienced the greatest advance when I spent some months in Australia and then in the USA. After that, I have never stopped practicing: Reading, watching films, etc. And still, I keep making mistakes and learning something new almost every single day. I am pretty sure I am going to be a student of the English language for ever!

3. Was it difficult to translate a book from English into Spanish?
I think it was not difficult in general. I had some problems with some words and expressions. But that gave me the opportunity of do some research and expand my boundaries learning new ways of saying things, even in Spanish. Besides, I was not alone in the process! I have the help of my friend Terri Anderson, an English native, as you well know.

4. What was your favorite part of the process?
Two were my favorite parts of the project: the first, the beginning. The first reading, the moment I discovered the whole story and the characters; the second, at the end, when the translation was almost ready but it was still necessary to work on some small details.

5. Have you translated other writings from one language to another?
No, I have not. That was my first experience translating a text at a professional level.

6. Do you have any future translation projects?
I do not have any translation project right now, but I would like it!
7. How can readers contact you if they want to know more about you or your projects?
They can write me at
I will be happy to answer their questions if I can. 

Thank you, Carla, for your wonderful translation and for taking the time for this interview. I wish you luck in future translation projects.

Blog friends, do any of you speak and read Spanish? Have you had any of your work translated into other languages? If you could learn a second language, which language would it be?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Latest from the Art Class

Last Saturday's art show can be viewed on my Victorian Scribbles blog HERE

Meanwhile, in yesterday's art class we used colored pencils on pastel paper to capture wild animals and birds. Enjoy.

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The class will be over on April 12th, sigh. But it's been a great year with these students.

This is a special project of mine that is a nice balance to writing and research, huddling over the keyboard all day. What projects take you out of your writing cave to balance out your week?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The South Natomas Community Center Art Club's Art Show at University Art Supplies, March 10th


I'm excited about my students' art show coming up a week-from today. It will be in the window of my favorite art supplier's store. 

The exhibit will go up on March 10th, "Second Saturday" and will be in the store's special window for the rest of March and all of April. The students have a little reception outside the store, serving punch and cookies. The manager, Dave Saalsaa, is always so supportive, and parents usually bring more relatives and friends to see the work.

 I have ten regular students in class this year, from age 7 to age 16 (the latter a returning student.) Most of the students are 9 or 10. The above pictures are 5 of the 10 pieces that will be in the show — pictures taken before they were matted. Along with the matted pictures on display, the students have "artistic statements" with artist photos, and the pictures have labels with the name of the work, the student's age, and the media used for the art piece. 

Here's the announcement. 


                             2018 ART EXHIBITION
                                                                        2601 J STREET
                                                                        SACRAMENTO, CA. 95816
                                                         (Midtown – corner of 26th & J Streets)


I simply love doing this each year, but I had to drop it last year when it looked like I might have a second eye surgery. As it turned out, I didn't (touch wood). I really missed the class. I love what I'm doing as a writer, but I do spend the majority of the week huddled over my keyboard and in the land of imagination. A real high point is going to this class each Thursday and watching the students get immersed in their art. This was the first year we got easels, and we use these for the painting, but also for some pastel work.

If you like art and you are in the Sacramento area next Saturday, I hope you can find time to come by for some punch and cookies and enjoy the student art. University Art Supplies also has good prices on art materials, for those of you who paint or draw. 

Meanwhile, do you have pet projects that take you away from your keyboard and your WIP? Any school programs that you participate in?