Thursday, December 23, 2021

CHRISTMAS IN BRAGA

 WISHING YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BRAGA, PORTUGAL.

                               "FELIZ NATAL E UM PROSPERO ANO NOVO"








                                              SEE YOU NEXT YEAR WITH SOME GOOD NEWS! 😊

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Street Musicians, a Special Bonus of the Historic Center

Two days ago, following our language lesson, we went walking around the historic area and decided to stop at A Brazileira for a glass of wine. The temperature was mild, so we could sit at an outside table, and we were also lured by the sound of music. 


One of the things I love about the historic center is that often there are street musicians on one or another of the many open plazas. This time, the musicians were just s few yards away from A Brazileira, so we sipped our wine and enjoyed a good BLUES concert. Both musicians played guitars, and one of them sang with a really good blues voice. I recorded a segment, but I couldn't get it to play on this blog. I really wish someone could tell me how to do that.


Meanwhile, how about you? Do enjoy street performances? Street art?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


 

 Great news: My cosy mystery, Deadly Vintage, is now available on Amazon in hardback. I'm posting the American link — HERE; but it's also available on all European Amazon sites as well. If you have friends and family who like mysteries set in other countries (in this case Portugal), consider getting them DV for Christmas.

Hope you will check it out. 

Have a great rest of the week. 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

AN INCREDIBLE CONCERT

 

Last night we heard one of the most wonderful concerts in our lives at Theatro Circo. It's hard to explain the music - it was so original and so hypnotic; simply mesmerizing. We were spellbound for an hour and a half. The group is called Nopo Orchestra - 7 musicians in a collaboration between Norway and Portugal. Absolutely haunting. What was amazing: the performers just walked in and took their places; then the music began and swept us away.

The stage before the musicians
came in. You can see that, for 7 
musicians, the instruments were 
complex. 

Rajan being shown our
seats before the main
audience arrived. 

            The seven musicians were: 2 guitarists - one, Francisco Sales has an international reputation, but the other was great, too; two drummers, but the drum sets were far more than drums, and the drummers were true artists ; a violinist, who wrung so much emotion out of the violin (and who also sang at times); and then two world famous horn/flute and horn/saxaphone artists who achieved a breathtaking range of sound and rhythm with their instruments. the first I mentioned was Rão Kyao who played mainly a range of long, bamboo pipes that reminded me of Ecuadorian music, and then at the very last, a traditional flute; the other was Karl Seglem who played the saxaphone at times and equally played a goat horn, which achieves amazing music and sound effects. You would not believe the spell these two particular musicians could cast. Again, so much emotion was poured into the music. 
            The melodies seemed almost Celtic at times, but the rhythm often sounded Brazilian, and the combination just swept a listener into a magical world.
I only took three pictures of them and their instruments, and then four more of the Theatro Circo itself, and elegant theater that is 150+ years old. Enjoy.
And, BTW, all three of the main musicians mentioned above are on FB and have websites if you want to learn more about them and where you can get their music.

A staircase to the next
leverl (there are three
more altogether.)
    
This is an elegant theater
as you can see. Red and 
ivory and gold, with 
paintings and sculptures.


And the magificent ceiling. This 
theater is over 150 years old


Have you ever attended a concert, expecting to like it and be interested, and then found yourself simply astonished by how beautiful it was?

Friday, November 5, 2021

Planting Season Is Here, and So is Physical Therapy

 

I'm posting some pictures of the pedestrian/tourist part of Avenida da Liberdad. I had posted some earlier, last March, shortly after we arrived. This is what it looked llike then: the planting had been done in the winter and similar plants were in various gardens around the historic area of Braga.

 

Then in late spring the city planted the area (and areas) for summer. Here is what it looked like then:


And now the city is preparing flower beds all over for the new winter plants. Again, this is what Avenida da Liberdad in the historical area looked like this afternoon:

    

I can hardly wait to see what they will plant. Stay tuned. 

On another note, I may have mentioned that 2 months ago (approximately) I fell at night and injured my shoulder. Nothing was broken, but a ligament was torn and after more x-rays and ultra-sounds and an appointment with a physical therapy consultant, my physical therapy program started this Tuesday. 

I've had three sessions, an hour or a little more each, and they were fascinating. I was expecting someone to raise my arm, move it back and forth, or something like that. Much like what the PT Consulting doctor did. Instead, there were five phases. First a machine administered an electrical analgesic through two pads, one on each side of the joint. After about 20 minutes, different pads were placed and for about 15 minutes a deep tissue massage was administered, again electrically. After that, an ointment of some kind was externally administered to the area of the tendon and surrounding muscles to regernerate the tissue. That's right: It regenerates tissue. That was followed by a manual massage of all the surrounding muscles and tissue. Last, I was given a rubber strap to pull between my hands in three sessions of 10 pulls. 

That was Tuesday. Wednesday I did that and then raised a lightweight pole in three sets of 10 times. I did both those exercises at home Wednesday - no PT because our language lesson occurs at the same time. Then I had PT again today, with a new exercise: pressing a rubber ball the size of a toy soccer ball against the wall, and then rolling it in circles. I had to do that with both hands, to keep building up the muscles. Altogether there will 15 sessions. I do have to say, already my shoulder feels much better.

Here you see my PT "home equipment." The briefcase in the back holds my binder of Portuguese language lessons.

How about you? Have you ever had to have physicall therapy for an injury? If you have a garden, do you plant different plants for each season?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Exciting Events While Waiting for Feedback from Beta Readers

I finished this draft of my mystery and sent it off to my beta readers (all excellent critiquers - they catch all my errors; the ones I can't spot anymore because I've read the manuscript too many times.) So we shall see what work remains to be done.

Meanwhile, I'm kicking back and doing some reading - two new Sherlock Holmes pastiches by two of my favorite writers. And I'm enjoying Braga life once more (as opposed to "huddled over my keyboard" life.) Last Sunday was a special day for two reasons: Rajan and I attended a terrific Fado concert, and later that evening I had a Zoom poetry reading with poets back in Sacramento! I posted about it on my Facebook Timeline, and am pasting a copy of the post below: 

"Yesterday I had two wonderful experiences: In the afternoon, Rajan and I went to a Fado concert, 'Fado Solidário,' at Altice Forum, half a mile from our flat. It was fabulous! 7 fadistas, 3 men, 4 women, all with marvelous voices. It was a fundraiser for a school for challenged young people and adults. The students were worked into the program both in the beginning song and during the finale, when they presented roses to the performers. They did a terrific job. Our friend and teacher, Fadista Marisa da Luz had told us about it. Thanks, Marisa! I only took one picture (above) of the two guitarists. I wish I had though to take more, but I was too busy being spell bound.

"The second wonderful experience was that I had a poetry reading via Zoom with poets in Sacramento! How great it was to see familiar faces from the poetry groups I used to attend! The president of the Chaparral group, Rick Costa, organizes readings regularly, but usually they are too late for me to listen in. He posts videos of the readings later (that I can listen to here, since they are usually evening performances in Sacramento). For this reading, he set a special time - 12 noon in CA, 8 pm here - and I read from my book, "Saudade," as well as some additional poems from my WIP, "Dreaming of Galicia." This was my very first poetry reading, and truth to tell, I was nervous about it ahead of time, but then all those friendly faces put me at ease. So this was an experience to savor. Thank you, Rick!"

Meanwhile, for those of you in the Sacramento Area, here is a link you can go to if you are interested in the society. Membership is $20/year and you get invited to their zoom events - with no problems regarding time zones :-) Here is the LINK

Before I leave, here is a picture from the small bridge overlooking the Rio Este (East River), a short walk from our house, where a scene takes place in my new mystery, Deadly Verse.



I hope this finds all visitors to the site safe and well from the virus and doing well with all the precautions that have to be taken. Portugal has a vaccination rate in the high 90%s, and so restrictions have been lifted, although indoors social distancing is still advised, and at events like the concert above, masks are required. But we still wear our masks on the street and I would say about 50% of the population still does, too; at least here in Braga.

Meanwhile, how about your favortite pastimes. Do you enjoy concerts? Do you like poetry? Do you write poetry? And what is your favorite reading genre?


Monday, September 27, 2021

I AM WRITING

Which is why I'm not posting. And I have all these pictures of Portugal I want to share!

My muse says otherwise, though. "Thou must write, and get to it right now, okay?"

The good news is that I'M ALMOST FINISHED WITH MY BOOK. I expect to finish this draft next week and send it to my beta readers. Oh Happy Day.

News about the arm? Ultra sound seems to confirm tendon damage. I see my orthopedic surgeon Wednesday, but at last meeting, when he order the ultra sound, he seemed to feel physical therapy can suffice. Thank goodness. 

Hope all is going well with all of you, and I look forward to when I can be back and interactive. But now I must hie to the keyboard for other reasons.

Everyone take care and stay well.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

New Developments

 One of these days I'll be able to write a post again where I am not reporting bad news. Recently we had another death in the famiy (one of my husband's brothers — so we've been on "WhatsApp" a lot with scattered family), and I also learned that the fall had done more damage to my shoulder than I had thought. I posted this on Facebook, but realized this morning I should do so here as well to expain why I'm not posting much lately. I'm also posting this on both blogs. 

I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist this Friday about my shoulder — last week had more Xrays taken. I should learn more Friday about whethr surgery or physical therapy is the future.

Other updates: The cataract surgery went very well and Friday I'll have one last check before my opthomologist writes a new prescription. (Here in Braga, the same doctor is both opthamologist and optometrist, which I kinda like.)

Despite all of the above, I've been writing on my book, and I have about 6 chapters left to the end before I rewrite it and send it to my beta readers.

I hope all who stop by are having a good week filled with good activities and good news.

Take care and stay well.




Friday, August 20, 2021

Tuesday I Had Cataract Surgery

Dear friends, 

sorry I've been silent again. On Tuesday I had cataract surgery and had to stay off the computer for three days. Even now, I'm keeping that eye closed just for good measure. Tomorrow I can do all things in my normal life again, but for three days I couldn't read, or use the computer. (So I listened to music and my Portuguese CDs. But really, I love being online and hated missing all the news. And no reading? Aaarrrrgh!)
But the surgery went very well. My surgeon checked the eye (left) yesterday and is quite satisfied. After my three week period of eyedrops is over, I have another appointment to get a prescription for glasses. Interestingly, the opthamologist does all the optometry testing/prescription as well. I have to say, I like the idea of one person keeping track of my eyes instead of two departments. It's a different system. And I do like my opthamologist, although I had a super one in Sacramento. She was great, too.
Rajan has an appointment next Tuesday, as it's time for him to get a new prescription.
Meanwhile, today I get to go out walking again! (I've missed that, too!)

I'll sign off for now but will be back soon. Everyone have a great day.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Our Shipping Arrived!

 Hooray! Future photos won't show bare walls and empty bookshelves anymore. Stay tuned.



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Today I have a "School Visit" via Zoom with a class iin Monforte de Lemos

   This afternoon, even though I'm in Braga, Portugal, I have a "School Visit" via Zoom with a class in Monforte de Lemos, Galicia, Spain. How cool is that! (The "visit" is to the Escola de Idiomas Eoi Monforte). The class's teacher is a friend of ours, and she teaches English to adult learners. She actually ordered copies of my mystery for students earlier in the year in high hopes that by now Covid 19 would be under control and everything would open up and I would visit in person. (Monforte is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Braga.) Well, things are opening up, but only gradually, and in Galicia classes aren't meeting face to face yet. 

Still, I'm happy to meet her students via Zoom. It's for an hour. I'll be curious about what questions they ask. She has formed a "reading club" with some of her students, and here is the flyer:


    About Monforte de Lemos: Many of you who have followed this blog know my husband and I in pre-Covid days used to go to Galicia twice a year. We started going there in spring of 2014 and even had a house in a small village about twenty minutes away from the town of Monforte (as the locals refer to it).  The "de Lemos" comes from the fact that the town grew up around a castle owned by Conde de Lemos. It's on a hill and overlooks the rather large town that developed since then through the centuries. At times part of it has been a monastery. And there's a cathdral at one side. But now the whole edifice is part of the Parador system and it houses a hotel, a restaurant, and a café/bar. Everyone in town refers to it as "The Parador."


The Parador



The Old Roman Bridge in town

     A walkway in the park in town.

    It gives my heart a twinge to see these old pictures of Monforte. We haven't been there since fall of 2019. Once the borders open up again, we'll look forward to driving up to visit Galicia friends. Until then, we feel very lucky to be in Braga and able to see our Braga friends, whom we've started meeting in the allowable open air spaces outside cafés. 

    Just mentioning the virus at all reminds me that the pandemic is still here for a while. So many countries are suffering from too many cases and not enough vaccines. 

May all of you stay safe and well, and may next year bring happy news for us all. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

SPRING HAS SPRUNG IN BRAGA

What a difference two weeks make! Spring has arrived in Braga, although the weather isn’t particularly consistent: One day it is hot; the next, cool and breezy; the next, hot; the next overcast with threatening clouds and finally rain; then hot again. And so on. Yesterday was hot. But everywhere greenery and flowers are unfolding: The Jardim de Santa Barbara has relinquished its tulips and is bursting with an explosion of color from a variety of blooms. The trees lining both sides of Avenida da Liberdade have ruffled out in leaves in their promenade down to the river and the mountain beyond.

Standing at the edge of the gardened area of Avenida da 
Liberdade, looking toward the mountain. See the far salmon colored building on the right? The lower one, not the high one. Well, at that corner, you turn left to go to our flat. You go one street, turn right, and then a zig-zag of cobbled streets and walks will bring you to our little street.  


Below is a cute little separate house right on a street around the corner from our flat. It just captivates me everytime I walk past it.
     

The Santa Barbara Gardens in all their splendor, and the dragon sculpture in the plaza across from them:





And everywhere around the historic center, redbud is in bloom:



 


What else have we been doing? Well, we bought a set of shelves for the balcony to start an herb garden in pots. So far, we have rosemary, cilantro, thyme, sage, basil, and mint, and they look very happy. We still want to find oregano and, if possible, dill and tarragon.



We’ve been walking every day, exploring different neighborhoods and new routes to fill in our mental map of the area and have discovered 4 different routes to our favorite bakery. Most days we walk at least 3 miles.
 



On Palm Sunday, during our walk-about, we floated along Rua do Souto, listening to chanting that had been piped over loudspeakers above shop doorways. There is something so peaceful and soothing about chants. It gave a lovely feel to the day, and we finished the afternoon with a new bag of hot, salted chestnuts, eating about half of them while we sat on a stone wall next to the sculpture of three mountains in Avenida Central across from the Centesima Pagina bookstore. A few doors away from the bookstore is the Casa do Professor, which is a home for anyone who has been a teacher in Portugal and is also a restaurant/cafeteria open to the public. A few doors in the opposite direction is the Hotel Bracara Augusta with the Centurium Restaurante (where Carla and Owen have a mysterious dinner with an old college chum in my new book.)
This is the sculpture. It represents three mountains around Braga, although I don't yet know their names. It's smack in the middle of the little park area flanked on each side by Avenida Central, and it's across from our favorite bookstore: Centésima Página. In addition to being a super bookstore, Centésima Página has a little lunchbar and outdoor seating in back. 

One day we went to the Rio Este at the end of Avenida da Liberdade and took a river walk upstream. Another day we followed the river downstream. In both cases, benches and trees and grass create a continuous meandering parkland.
The "upstream" side of the bridge.

And yesterday was the big day for Portugal: cafés opened to outside customers, no more than four to a table, and on the esplanades only; no one inside. All last week in Braga you could see the proprietors and servers washing doors and windows, polishing up the tables and chairs, and you could feel the excitement in the air, because this is a culture that likes its cup of coffee or glass of wine at plaza tables, socializing with friends and watching the world go by. We were excited, too, and started lining up meetings with friends we’ve only been able to visit online since arrival. Across the street from our flat, we’ve watched the Pastelaria get ready, and the tables and chairs put outside. But it was when we walked to the historic center to meet a friend that we were just amazed: In pre-Covid days, the streets were thronged with tourists who filled up the plaza tables. Yesterday they were thronged with locals who have been waiting for the day! We felt like half of Braga must have turned out for the opportunity to share a cup of corree, a glass of beer or wine, with friends at last. I just hope there will be no ill effects that send us all into lock down again.






And that wraps up our news for the day. I hope wherever you are, you are weathering confinement well. What special things do you do to pass the time? Are you writing more? Do you take walks? Keep houseplants? Read more?

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

SETTLING IN . . . .

 
 
When you come out of our little neighborhood onto Avenida de Liberdade, if you turn right, it leads to Rua do Souto and to Praça República. If you turn left, however, just a couple of streets away is the Rio Este (East River). Across it is a pretty little park with a church in one section, and picnic tables and benches all through. Beyond the park is a mountain. So close! (My apologies for the poor lighting.)
On the southern side of the bridge, walkways and a jogging path flank each side of the river, well-used by bicyclists and joggers as well as people just strolling along. (I am sorry to say that in the book I’m presently writing a body will be found on the jogging path, though the victim didn’t die there.) You can see the park beyond.

A few days ago, the trees along the lower part of Avenida de Liberdade toward the river were just "misting," with faint green smudges along the boughs. By yesterday the leaves were unfurling. So quickly! Sadly, the view of the mountain in the distance is marred somewhat by billboards. But at many angles it’s an arresting mountain. and you can see it from many intersections in the main part of the historic section.

The mountain.

Trees along Avenida de Liberdade
I'm not sure what kind of trees these are, but the Avenida is lined with them, right on up to the Praça (which is Portuguese for "plaza.")
We walked on up Avenida de Liberdade to the Sé Catedral area, where we encountered another dear friend, Marisa Rocha, who was walking around with a friend of hers. What a happy surprise! We’ve really been limited for the most part to contacting friends here by email or Facebook because of the virus. Since this was out in the open, and we were all masked, we did elbow bumps and kept our distance, and then had a really nice chat. Naturally, we didn't think to take any pictures of our encounter. We were all too busy catching up on news.

Sunday, everything was closed, but we did more exploring, taking a new route out of our neighborhood and ending up on Rua 31 de Janeiro that took us up to Largo Senhora-a-Branca. And there we had another pleasant surprise: We have noticed places of business getting things ready for April fifth when hopefully more restrictions will be lifted. Hotel Sra.-a-Branca’s doors were open, and we went in to say hello to Maria and her husband, the proprietors, since we stayed there so many times in the past. We didn’t see anyone, so we came out again, and encountered our new American ex-pat friend, Bob, sitting on a bench. We had a nice "safe" (masked up) chat with him, and then Maria and her husband came out of Sra.-a-Branca and waved at us, so we went over and had a safe chat with them. It was great to see them again, and I do hope their hotel opens again and the Spanish border opens up. She said they get most of their tourist traffic from Spain.
Again, we went to the area, even though everything was closed, since it was Sunday. Walking back to the gardened area of Avenida de Liberdade, we stopped and bought a bag of hot chestnuts from a kiosk run by two women. It was just before they were closing, but the coals were still hot. For 3 Euros, we got a dozen chestnuts and ate six of them on the way home. There is just nothing like the taste of hot, salted chestnuts!
On AVenida de Liberdade, at the Praça end, it's been beautifully landscaped, and the flowers change with each season. Right now there are red and white cabbage plants alternating with beautiful small flowers I can't name yet.


It also has some of the more name brand shops, as well as banks, and the Teatro Circo where concerts are preformed.
The end closes to our neighborhood and the river is made up of a lot of apartment buildings that have flats above and small businesses below. By small businesses I mean little produce markets, odds-n-ends stores where you can buy everything from dishes to mops and brooms and dustpans, storage jars, breadboxes, bathmats, towels (and more, seriously), clothing stores, etc. Right now, with some of the restrictions lifted, for the latter, you can buy at the door: stand in a socially distanced line, and when it's your turn, tell the proprietor what you want and pay for it at the door. (The odds-and-ends stores are different, you can go inside to find what you want, and then pay in a socially distanced line.) (Everyone here wears masks, by the way. It's only rarely you see someone wiwthout one.) 
Anyway, to return to the Avenida (and many side streets as well), every flat seems to have a balcón overlooking the street, and many of these are full of plants, some flowering, some even small trees. One captivated us especially: The balcony was overflowing with plants, and the woman was tending them so lovingly it was an irresistible photo.


How about you? Do you like to walk? Do you keep a small garden on a patio or balcony? Or do you have a yard with a garden?