Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

Ever since we returned from Galicia, I've been immersed in immediate activities like:
1) a visit from a special nephew; 2) spreading the word about my new book, Dragonella; 3) getting a TB test and getting fingerprinted in order to teach my volunteer art class at the community center—a new requirement this year, and 4) renewing my driver's license. We've only been home three weeks and two days, and it feels like we've crammed 6 months into that time. 

 1. the visit with our nephew was great, although much too short, and we do hope he'll bring his wife next time. 2. You've probably all heard enough about Dragonella now.  3. Good news:  I don't have TB, and I do have good fingerprints. (The fingerprints were a lot of work, though, because really, I have terrible fingerprints from years of gardening and cleaning house without gloves. I failed my first test two weeks ago. But drinking lots of water daily and rubbing Neutrogena into my finger and thumb tips several times a day did wonders. Fingerprints passed yesterday! Yay.) And 4. I passed my written test yesterday for the driver exam, which was super important: My current license expires in 8 days. (Yes, it's true: Sagittarius is a sign that procrastinates.)

Which brings me, finally, back to our trip to Galicia and the topic of today's post: "The Long and Winding Road." Actually, there are a lot of long and winding roads in Galicia. The picture above is just one of them. Here are a couple more:

But the particular long and winding road of the title goes up, up, up into the mountains to a casa rural and an ancient,  famous monastery—Mosteiro de Santo Estevo. We don't have a picture of that road, because we were too busy having adventures on it.                                              
Even though this monastery has beckoned to us for years and appears on a poster at our favorite coffee shop in Escairon, Circulo O Saviñao, we've never dared venture up the mountain to see it. Rajan loves to photograph ancient churches, but we both hate narrow roads that drop off on the sides here and there. Then we met Irene and Ian, who have a casa rural—Casa Santo Estevo—right behind the monastery. Since we had lunch with them on an earlier visit in Monforte (our choice), we decided that on our next visit we should go to them.
Casa Santo Estevo: Very old, and very

Most of the drive wasn't all that bad, although there are no pictures of it because Rajan was focusing on driving and I was gritting my teeth and gripping the door. (Even "not all that bad" feels kinda bad to me.) But we got to a crucial point that can only be described as a hairpin turn — one going up an incline. Not fun. 

Once arrived, however, we had a lovely visit. The casa rural is beautifully furnished with cosy touches, the rooms all overlooking beautiful vistas. Behind Irene and Ian, you can see vineyards on the far slopes, and Rajan took a couple pictures of the area, vowing to come back and take more. Here's one of us, too, trying to look nonchalant about the hairpin curve waiting for us on the trip back. (These are from my camera, since Rajan hasn't given me the CD of his shots yet.) 

And so we headed back — and missed the turn. Which brings me once again to the title of this post. On the way out, we saw a turn that we were sure could not be IT. We were wrong. So we toodled merrily along for a stretch and then realized the road was 1. getting narrower, 2. getting muddier, 3. winding more and more around shrinking and muddier bends that went who knew where?

Luckily I had put Irene's phone number in my mobile, so we stopped and I called. She said they had seen us go the wrong direction, and Ian was already walking in our direction. When he arrived, she arrived soon after (both by foot). She knew the turn-around spots and directed us — Ian drove, thank goodness! On the way back, he picked her up, and took us past the curve we had dreaded, to a spot in front of the monastery itself, which also was a nice level area from which to drive back home.

And then they gave us a tour of the grounds! We'd been dying to see that building up close, and now there we were, walking around the grounds with friends for tour guides.

This is a very famous monastery. You can see an overall picture of it HERE: The huge rose window is considered the largest rose window in Europe (yes, larger than the ones in Notre Dame in Paris!)

My shots don't give you a view of that window or the entire building — you'll have to go to the site above for that. I did take these to show other aspects of the church/monastery, some parts of which go back to the twelfth century.
(The S in the picture at the left is for "siglo", which is Spanish for century).

Even then, these pics don't begin to convey the size of this building. It's enormous.

Rajan is into black and white photography and wants to go back again with his film camera and take some more pictures of both the building and the spectacular views all around. We have a plan for that, though: Park on a lower level in a good turn-around spot, turn around ahead of time, and walk up the rest of the way.

How about you: Do high, narrow, winding roads make you nervous? Do you like historic buildings? Old churches? Has November been a "crunch" month for you?

Since the big day is tomorrow, have a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it's filled with love and laughter and good eating. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Great Start to November

We are home, now, and two things have started November off on a lovely note: One is my new picture book, Dragonella, that was waiting for me when we got home. The other is the after school Art Club that kicked off Thursday on the Day of the Dead.

Dragonella was released in October, by Belanger Books, but we were in Spain. The fabulous art work is by Brian Belanger. Wonderful pictures on every page.

We got home last Monday evening, late, and have been catching up on sleep and getting back into our routines since our return. What a wonderful trip it was! And how wonderful it is to be home again. I'll still be posting with pictures about our Spain trip, but right now I'm focusing on getting the word out about Dragonella, and there are some samples of the Art Club sugar skulls below, as well.

Here is a LINK to Amazon for those of you who are doing your Xmas shopping for little ones. It's for ages 5-8, but good for younger kids who enjoy being read to.

Here is a blurb about the book from the back cover:

For those of you who like to give books for Christmas (and there is no greater gift for a child — it opens the whole world to them) — SCBWI has a marvelous online Bookstop site you can browse to consider books for children of all ages. Here is the link for SCBWI BOOK STOP

You can find great selections in both Traditionally publishes and Independently published books.

And here is the link to my page at the Bookstop:  If you have time, please stop by and like my page and sign the guestbook.

NOW TO ART CLUB: Each year I volunteer teach fine arts once a week at the South Natomas Community Center. Last year I didn't, because I didn't know whether my glaucoma was going to call for surgery in my left eye, and I didn't want to start a class and then discontinue it. Happily, the prognosis is good and I'm back in the art room. I teach on Thursdays between trips to Spain, and happily this Thursday was smack dab on El Dia de los Muertos. How cool is that? We did sugar skulls, using sample pictures as inspiration, but I always encourage the kids to take off in their own direction. We used oil pastels on pastel paper, and this is what they came up with:

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How about you? Do you like art? Do you do any form of art? Do you like books about dragons? Have you started your Xmas shopping yet? (Don't depress me by saying you are all finished — I haven't even begun!)

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween and that you have a Happy Thanksgiving coming up.