Monday, May 30, 2016

Catching up on Our Trip to Galicia, Spain

A children's folklorico group at Vila dos Infantes. The
leader is getting them ready to perform.  
There are so many experiences from our last trip that I wanted to blog about all the time we were there. But I also needed to finish the rewrite of my cozy mystery--which I did. Now I'm back home, putting the rewrite chapters together for some beta readers to read and give me new feedback. And now I'm free to post again. Despite a lot of rain, it was a wonderful trip.

One particular day stands out,  and that is May 17th. May 17th is my husband's birthday, and in recent years we usually are in Galicia when that happens. It is also El Día de las Letras for all of Galicia, celebrating Galician authors and poets and the freedom for Galicians to read and write again in their own language -- Galego. (Under Franco, it was forbidden.) But friends of ours, Elvira and José, had also been urging us each year to see special festivities at a village called Vilanova dos Infantes, near the city of Celanova.

 The festival includes folklorico dancing groups all day long, as well as artisan displays of spinning, weaving, ceramics, basketry, among other crafts, and it takes place every year on May 17th. So this time we and several friends attended it, and later attended a lunch party by Elvira and Jose afterwards.

We spent the morning strolling around the village, enjoying the dances and displays, before going to our friends' house for lunch. The groups varied in ages, as you can see. Enjoy some of these photos. (I wish I had thought to video it so that you could hear the music.)

As we wandered through the village, we encountered various parades with the musicians using typically Galician instruments. One such instrument is the Galician bagpipe, called the gaito. A gaito player is called a gaitero, and famous gaiteros give concerts all over Galicia. As you can see in the pictures below, the musicians start out young to learn their art.

I tried to get pictures of the artisans at work, but streets were too crowded. And, much as I was tempted to buy a vase, the problem of transporting it without breakage was too challenging.   So, it was enough to enjoy the experience.

 Afterwards we went to Elvira's home to enjoy a sumptuous feast of a luncheon she had laid out for us: so many dishes, and all of them delicious. She and José are such gracious hosts, and you can see we all had a great time with food and wine and wonderful company. (We met Elvira through our friend, Jacki Edmonds, and how we wished Jacki were there to join us.)

Then, of course, Elvira and José decided to do a quemada.

A quemada is both a special drink and the vessel and cups it is prepared and served in. The ingredients are coffee beans, orange peel, apple slices (and some people add other touches), sugar, and, most of all, aguardiente, a homemade brandy in every home that will blow your head off if drunk straight. In a quemada, the effect is reduced because of the way it is prepared. You put all of the ingredients into the quemada bowl, set fire to the liquid, and stir continually until the blue flames die down. (A lot of the alcohol burns off--but not all!)
Here are the masters plying their skill:

The blue flame

And then, alas, it was time to start the drive home. But before departure, I took a few pictures of Elvira's home and view. We love the old stone buildings of villages like this -- they are everywhere in Galicia. And you can see the peace and serenity of Galicia in the view from her window--both the vegetable garden she and José tend, and the layers of hills seemingly without end.

How about you? Do you have a favorite place that seems to exude peace and serenity? Do you like old buildings? Do you garden? If so, flowers or vegetables? Or both?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Still Working on the Rewrite

All I can say is, this had better be as good as I'm hoping when I finish! Hope to see you soon.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Blogging Hiatus During April and Part of May

A place far away, where
my mystery takes place.
I hope my book will end
up on one of these shelves.
Dear Blog Friends,

I will be taking a posting break on this Fourth Wish blog during April and the first part of May. A health problem (which looks like it will be resolved soon) took up a lot of my time with medical appointments during the past few weeks. I got way behind in my cozy mystery re-write, and I need to make that a priority now.

My Victorian Scribbles blog is connected to my other writing venture and the anthology coming out in June, so I'll be posting next door on Victorian Scribbles. I just can't manage two blogs while finishing the cozy mystery. I should be back here by mid-to-late May, so please return then. And please pop in next door at Victorian Scribbles for updates.

Thanks for your understanding.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The After-School Art Club's Art Show Ten Days Ago

I had meant to blog about my students' art show earlier, but time got away. (Some weeks are just like that.)

First, I'd like to thank University Art Supplies Store for hosting the students' art reception on Saturday, March 12th to kick off the exhibit, which will be displayed in the window for the rest of March and all of April.

University Art is a marvelous art supplies store that provides several programs for young people, as well as classes for all ages. They are located at the corner of 26th Street and J Street. You can learn more about their products and programs HERE, (and please "like" them on Facebook HERE. )

Next, I'd like to thank the South Natomas Community Center for being so supportive of the after- school art club. They purchase materials for me and store them at the center. All I have to do is go in and teach, and students already love art before they ever come in. The center offers a variety of services and classes for the community. You can learn more about their programs HERE 

Now -- on with the Second Saturday art reception and exhibit. For those who don't live in Sacramento, "Second Saturday" each month is when  art lovers go from gallery to gallery, enjoying  receptions for new art exhibits. The receptions often feature wine and munchies, but our artists served punch and cookies. Below are the 17 pieces of art displayed, along with pictures of some of the students and their families. Enjoy.


            Students range in age from 6 to 14, although the class is mainly set up for 8-to-12-year-olds. But some are returning students and go farther with the lessons, and some have older siblings in class, which keeps the class from becoming geared to 1st or 2nd-graders: The younger ones simply keep up and constantly amaze me with their grasp of what are basically lessons for older kids. Below are pictures of some of the students who came to the reception (in shifts, between noon and 2:00 p.m.) and their proud families. It got pretty hectic at times, so I didn't get a chance to photograph everyone who came.

This artist is seven.

Her cousin, artist on the right, is nine.

The artist on the left just turned eight.
Hopefully her brother will join one day.
Another seven-year old artist.

This artist just turned seven.
The artist on left is ten. Shy sister on
right is too young for the class.
Her thirteen-year-old sister, a fine
  artist, was sick and couldn't attend.

Two artists, sisters; the one on left is
seven; the one on the right is eleven.

I  didn't get a photo of these two artists
 before they left, so this is last year's
photo: The artist on the left is nine
this year; on the right, fourteen.

The artist, eleven and dedicated,
is almost hidden by her two
younger siblings in this picture.

Being involved with these students gives me a special boost each week. I always come home rejuvenated by their energy. We have two more classes this year, and then the art class is over until November. While I have other projects that need tending to, I'm going to miss them. 

How about you? Are you an art lover? Do you do any volunteer projects that give you special enjoyment?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Spring has Sprung in Sacramento

I have been busy with various projects lately, so I'm late in posting these photos. But spring in Sacramento is always a beautiful symphony of blossoms, starting with the flowering plum trees around town -- especially at McKinley Park. The sprays of pink along graceful boughs that reach up and out always give my heart such a lift.

Every fall, the burst or reds and golds makes me say fall is my favorite season. And then spring comes and blows me away.

McKinley Park is part part of my husband's regular walking routine. Lately I've gotten back to walking (a mile and a half most days), but usually my walk takes me in the opposite direction to Time Tested Books, my favorite used book store. Last week, though, I revisited McKinley Park after his glowing report of trees in bloom, and I was not sorry. Have a look:                                                                                                                                                                                

There is a pond on the western side of the park, on the south side of the library building. and a small island in the center where ducks and geese hang out. The path above circles around it. Here is a larger perspective of this beautiful section:    

But farther up the south side of the park is the beautiful rose garden. The roses aren't in bloom yet, but the Japanese magnolias have opened their petals and shed some of them, littering the ground with a dazzle of pale lavender

And now, as I make my rounds of the neighborhoods on my daily walk, I'm starting to see the daffodils and tulips. I keep forgetting to take my camera. For now, you'll have to imagine the yellow ruffles of daffodils, the glossy reds and purples of the tulips. 

Have a great week-end.

How about you? Which is your favorite season of the year? What trees to you like the best for their colors?