Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Sweet Surprise

We just got back from our cruise yesterday, and did we ever have adventures, both going and returning! But there was a surprise waiting for me when I got online. In my absence, writer and blogger, Victoria Lindstrom (Writ of Whimsey), passed the SuperSweetBlogging award to me and four others. (This is good in more ways than one. I have a trillion pictures from the cruise to sort through and need some time to catch my breath before sharing highlights Rajan and I enjoyed. I'll be blogging about those starting next week, so please come back.)

Meanwhile, the SuperSweetBlogging Award:  The rules are:
1- Answer the following five questions.
2- Nominate five sweet bloggers.

The Questions:
1. Cookies or Cake?  Cookies, hands down! Any kind of cookies. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar cookies, oatmeal . . . . All of them.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. I love a cup of hot cocoa to start the day.

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? I'm not really a big sweet eater, but my favorite dessert is the Tarta de Santiago they make in Galicia. It's like a giant cookie, but soft, with almonds ground so fine there's no nut pieces, and the top is dusted with powdered sugar.

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things the Most? As I mentioned above, I'm not a really big sweet eater. Even though I like cocoa in the morning, if you give me a box of chocolates, it can take me months to eat them. 

5. Sweet Nick Name? My husband and I both call each other "Babe" or "Sweetheart".

And Now My Nominees:

1. Rachna Cchabria: Rachna's Scriptorium Rachna was one of my first blogging friends and she gave me so much help in learning to navigate Facebook. (She is always lending a helping hand to others.) She's also a great example of perserverance -- perserverance that has paid off. Her stories and books are finding homes.

2. Richard Hughes: Writing and Living Another of my first blogging buddies. He has written and published two e-books and recently has ventured into the world of painting. Sweet-natured, he is always supportive of fellow writers and friends. 

3. Carol Riggs: Artizcarol Ramblings Carol writes YA (and has an agent!) She gives great writing tips on her blog, and is an all around sweet person, very supportive of fellow writers.

4. Jayne Ferst Not only is Jayne a sweet person, but her blogging is always quite humorous. It's a very gentle, wry humor, and I can't wait to read her novel when she finishes it, because I know it will have me smiling. 

5. Keith Wynn: Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer Keith must have one of the most uplifting blogs around. If you want a boost to your day, go read one of his posts. They always bring you back to those moments that make life sweet.

Actually, I'm nominating 6.

6. Teresa Cypher: Dreamers, Lovers & Star Voyagers Teresa has one of the sweetest personalities I've ever encountered, both on her Facebook posts and her blogposts. Check out her Wordless Wednesdays.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Home Again, But Full of Memories

We didn't get in as much walking as we had planned, but the picture on the left is the toolshed belonging to Antonio's farm down the winding dirt road that leads to the paved carretera. Most of the time we were there, we had this kind of weather. It only changed the last week, and even then it was cool and crisp in the mornings, with fog and mist, and some rain, and clear and sunny in the afternoons. Then rain again at night.

The last week was a bit of a scramble for us, full of good-bye lunches with friends, preparing the house for closing, and having meriendas one evening with neighbors, and seeing to a car inspection, etc. But we did squeeze in a trip to the area near Celanova to have a hello-and-goodbye visit over lunch with friends we hadn't seen for about 4 years: Elvira introduced us to her boyfriend, Jose. We met her through another friend years ago and thoroughly enjoyed her. Manuel we had met years before in Celanova, through the same mutual friend, in fact, Jacki Edmonds. The meeting place was to be at a restaurant in a small village fringing Celanova called O Cristal, at 2:00 p.m. When we woke up, though, to the rain-washed morning, we thought,"Uh-oh, it's going to be that kind of a drive."

But the Force was with us. At breakfast, looking out the galeria window, what to our wondering eyes did appear . . ? Nope, not
St. Nick, but a promise of the day to come:

So off we went, and it truly was a beautiful drive down winding roads that parallel the River MiƱo on the way to Ourense, befor it is joined by the River Sil. On this route, vineyards terrace the hills. The sloping banks are terraced with bright houses and tiled roofs.

We set out especially early this time, because we remembered another visual treat: the amazing village of Vilanova dos Infantes -- one of the most immaculately maintained villages I've seen in Galicia. The homes always seem freshly painted, the gardens beautifully tended. People were friendly, too, as they are everywhere in Galicia. And we were even visited by a cat who acted as if he were the town mascot.

We also were intrigued by a set of statues and a plaque. It was historical, but, not knowing Gallegan, we couldn't find out why. The horreos are also a historical landmark in Galicia. These are the granaries raised off the ground, looking like little houses on mushroom-shaped pillars. The mushroom shape is to make it impossible for mice to get in. 

And then it was on to O Cristal, our meet-up place. We remembered a very interesting church from previous visits, right next door to the restaurant. My husband loves to photograph the churches around Galicia for their beautiful stonework, but what intrigued us about this church was the outdoor ampitheater and chapel: 

This separate little building that looks like a hermit's cell I believe is a shrine instead to the Virgin of  the Crystal (Virxgen do Cristal) who is honored in the Fiesta held September 15th (which we missed.) I obviously need to do some research on this church. It's fascinating.

This small building goes back to 1185. You can see the shrine inside in the third picture.

Then it was time to meet our friends at the restaurant, where we had a wonderful time catching up on four years of news.
An afternoon to remember. To your left, Manuel, then me. Behind me is Elvira's partner, Jose. Then Elvira, then Rajan.
Now, back in Sacramento, I can't help thinking what a wonderful invention the camera was! As much as I love art and all the wonderful portraits and landscapes, there's no way painters could work fast enough to capture so many images. What is your favorite memory that you like to capture with a camera?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four . . .

Last year, Miguel (our neighbor with the sheep) asked if he could use the lower half of our field to plant some potatoes. We said, "Sure!" We don't use it, and all our neighbors give us of their bounty. It seems the very least we can do. So, in spring and summer, on separate trips (due to our ailing, aged dog who needed tending at home), we saw ruffled rows of green leaves in what formerly had been a weed patch. Other neighbors told us the woman who lived here before us grew enormous tomatoes in that field. Still, imagine our surprise when the field yielded potatoes like this!

About two weeks ago, we looked out our galeria window and saw Antonio, Maria Elena, and Miguel, all working together to harvest the potatoes.
 Antonio was using his tractor. (Neighbors help each other out here; we often see Miguel at Antonio's farm, helping to plant or harvest, depending on the season.) Miguel is on flatbed in the picture below. And the last picture shows what the eventual harvest looked like. All this from such a small field. They obviously know what they are doing. When they saw us watching, Miguel hopped down and loaded up a sack of giant potatoes for us, and we've been eating them ever since.

This coming week-end will be the grape harvest, or vendimia, for our village. The week-end varies from village to village, depending on a variety of factors. (Our English friends in Canabal have been growing grapes, and they harvested theirs a week ago.) As with the potatoes, friends and neighbors help each other out. All of them will make their own wine and store it in vats in their bodegas.

What starts out looking like this:

Ends up looking like this:

The first time Miguel brought us a two-liter coke bottle filled to the brim, we thanked him, but after he left, we wondered how to ever tell him that we don't drink Coca Cola? Then we noticed: that coke looked a little purplish. We unscrewed the cap, and, sure enough, it was a generous helping of his home-made wine. The home-made wine here is really "table wine". It's a bit on the tart side, but tasty enough, and it has a very low alchohol content, probably around 6% or 7% -- low enough that locals drink a hearty portion with their lunch or dinner or afternoon meriendas (snacks).

On another note, this trip we've been blessed with wonderful, sunny weather. On most trips in spring or fall, it rains at least once a day, all the colors glistening in the rain. But this time, we've been met with blue, cloudless skies and lush green fields and wooded hills. Although this week we've gone from this:

To this:
  Still, I find it beautiful. The mist and fog always make me turn to poetry. To me, this is Galicia at it's most beautiful.

What about you? Do you like sunshine best, or fog and mist? What weather most brings out the writer or photographer in you?