Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back in the USA

Hola!  I am back in the USA.  After a very long and challenging trip from Madrid to home yesterday we have made it.  We got up and started dealing with moving back home around 6:00 am Madrid time, midnight in Monticello.  We flew from Madrid to Atlanta to Tampa and then my sister in  law JongAe and my niece, Jessica met us at the airport and brought us home to Dad's.  They had put breakfast things in the frig and made us dinner to heat up, so by the time we got to the house around 8:00 pm, all we had to do was collapse, eat and go to bed.  They are such sweet and thoughtful people.

We were in the act of travelling for 20 hours, and that is a lot for anyone, especially for an 86 year old man, barely mobile who was exhausted and pretty worn out and beaten up from the trip.  Oh yes, and his daughter with lung cancer, who was also pretty exhausted and worn out from taking care of her 86 year old father for 2 weeks travelling through the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.

It was a wonderful trip, and Dad and I enjoyed ourselves immensely and enjoyed being together.  Over the next few days I will post different days and photos of the trip, trying to show you some of the wonderful worlds we were in.

But for now, I must find where my brothers have hidden my car keys so I can go home.  I need to finish Dad's laundry from the trip and most of all I need to go home to my "kids".  Everyone keeps saying, do not rush home, we will take care of things for you here.  But I will not be able to relax until I have held and smelled and kissed and hugged each of my children.  And looked at my yard, and sat in my red chair and laid in my own bed with my own kids.  Then I shall be able to rest.

It was a wonderful trip
A truly great time
And now I am glad to be

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quick post

I only have a few minutes before Alfonso and Fatima come to pick us up to take us to a museum and then lunch.  Alfonso is again the mayor of Bacarotta.  Yesterday they had a ceremony at the library that is named for our family.  They have added a new plaque for mother.  The new young librarian is wonderful and excited and full of wonderful ideas, just the things Mother had hoped for.  They have won 3 awards and are up for another one this year.  They are very proud of this.  We are also.

This evening we will spend with our beloved friends, Barto, Montaña and their daughter Patricia and some other family friends.  They have a house in town, and a farm just outside of town.  This will be our first time to get to see the farm, and I am very excited. 

Everyone is being so kind and generous to us, and we have a schedule that I will share when I get home and have more time.  But I feel like the prize of a lottery being passed from family to family.  My Spanish is minimal and deplorable, I am embarrassed to say, that I just did not have time towork on it before this trip, and now I am paying for it.  Most of the people who we have spent time with have less English then I do Spanish.  Usually by the end of our time together we are communicating very well between noises, hand gestures and our few common words.  Today fortunately both groups have at least one person who speaks English.  That will be less stressful.  I have very little time alone, but when I can sneak off, I walk around the growing town and just revel being in this exotic and glorious country.  People never say anything bad about anyone else.  It complicates matter a bit, but it is refreshing.  Dinner never starts before 10 and we never get home before midnight.  Then are expected at Paco y Teresa´s casa by 10 the next morning.  We do get time for siestas, and the casa has such thick walls that it feels like the home is airconditioned, but there is a lot of cty noise, for such a small town, and so our sleep is quite restless.  There is plenty of time for sleep when we get home. 

We are having a truly wonderful time, and as physically and emotionally difficult parts of this journey are, it is worth every single moment.  Every single moment.  It was very hard physically on Dad, but he is being a trooper.  He does get a little worn out, but he keeps trying.  Next year is the 50th anniversary of the sister cities, Bradenton and Barcarotta exchanging visitors.  Barcarotta is already preparing for it.  I hope Bradenton also understands how important this anniversary is to the people here.  I hope Dad does not want to come for it.  If he was in better physical shape I don´t think I would be able to keep him away, and he can not do this travel alone, regardless of his physical shape at this point.  He is amazing at 86, but still, this is a major undertaking to get to this small town. 

They are having a terrible heat wave here, and outside it does pretty much feel like living in a hairdryer, thank you Truvy from Steele Magnolias, the line fits perfectly.  But inside these very old casa´s the walls are at least 2 feet thick.  Seriously, 2 feet thick, minimum.  The streets are very narrow, so again it helps to block direct sun on the houses, and well, everything is set to survive the extreme temperature changes here.  From their lifestyles, to the food they eat, to how they construct their buildings, etc.  And this is from centuries and centuries ago.

Also they have a very laid back life style, so if they say to be somewhere at noon, they will get up and get ready about noon, and may not show up for an hour or more.  It may be the hardest part to adjust to, because you are off kilter a bit at all times, not really sure what is going on, and then add in the communication challenges.  I could get very used to this, but I am always worried that I will not be where I should be and insult people.

The other challange is that each person who has us, feels they must out do the last one.  The food is fabulous.  Absolutely fabulous, and I am getting to eat so many things I would never have access to in the US.  And such care and display on everything.  And the quantity is huge.  I spend most of my time here, saying ¨muy bueno¨ and then ¨no mas¨. They also love courses here.  First is fresco questo, jamon, olives, potato chips and bread.  the second course is Insalada mixa, thrid course is soup, 4th course is omelet, 5th carnae (meat), 6th is aged cheese and fruit, and then something dolce.  At this time of year mostly ice cream.  But they only feed us like this at lunch and dinner.  The rest of time they make the international sign for eat, comar.  You always have something to drink for you, and they are all disappointed that I can not have vino or the beollota (acorn) liquor that I do love.  Breakfast is smaller with fruit, juice, leche, pan (bread), sweet things, maybe ceral and coffee.  They squeeze fresh oj for us each morning and they make me a pot of tea.  Their kindness and generousity just overflows.  They are gentle and sweet to everyone and for years I saw such respect for the elders.  I see as the next generation is taking on the challenges of this world, that the relationship is shifting between the elders and the younger people.  Where they used to always defer to the elders, they now forget to make they feel as respected, but at home, the elders are still adored and revered. 

The relationships between husbands and wives also seems to be different then in America.  Divorce is still not something that is at all commor or accepted here, even though it is legal. They are strongly catholic, and very much their families revolve around their faith.  It appears to make very strong personalities and strange bedfellows to my American eyes, but it works very well for them, and lets me see some amazing relationships that have lasted for 40, 50 and more years, and the people are very confident in their relationships so they can be themselves.  I wish I had half the confidence in myself and the ability for someone to love me so accepting. 

Tomorrow is Sunday and it is the celebration of Corpus Cristi.  This is where they will cover the streets with flowers and parade the Jesus statute around town.  People will crush together along the roads and sing and cheer and the priests and choir boys will be decked out in their finery and sing their sweet beautiful voices as they celebrate their faith once a year for this festival.  People who do not go to mass regularly will fill the cathedrahls here to overflow.  I love being with these people as they so openly express their faith.  My beliefs are so polar opposite of theirs, but the joy, love and radiance you see in their faces is something to behold.  They do not question my faith, I respect their rights to theirs, and even love to be there to see them practice theirs, so I feel so grateful to be here for this most important day for them.

Our afternoon hosts should be here in about 20 minutes, that is one hour after the scheduled time, but the extra hour of peace and quiet and the opportunity to use Davey´s computer has been wonderful.  I love that time here is so different then our country.  It makes thie magical place feel so timeless.  Time actually moves differently, more in tune with the environment of this place. Less put on my human, and more connected with the planet.

We are seeing so much and making such amazing memories and I feel so very very grateful for this time.  With beloved friends and my father, and with and for myself.  You can not help but have a bit of a prespective change while you are here. 
I am here
Life is so much more in the moment
you can not help but be grateful and awed by what a wonderful planet we live on
and it is very revealing that when they do the world news and weather, Canada is not mentioned at all, and the US is almost an after thought. 
It is an ugly world with so many horrible things going on that we do not see in the US.  But it does make me realize that we are rather vain in our country.  We think we are so very important.  Here, yes the US is a place where it holds a special place.  But to the average person outside of the US, we not much more then a novelty.
Somehow I find that refershing to have not to be the best, the leader, the evil country that leads the world down a horrible path with our excess and technology.  We are the teenagers, tolerated, appreciated, but not the world.  Their news tells so much more about everywhere but us. 

I hope to post many of the photos I have taken once I get home, but for now it is time to go to lunch at the old monastery, now a parador (museum, hotel, restraruant).  Love to you all.
I miss you all and wish we could get to be here together.  It would be so much fun for these two worlds I live in to come together. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Leaving beloveds to go to beloveds

Today Luis will drive us to Barcarotta.  Here are some of the photos I have been trying to post:

Josafina, Aña, Luis and Dad

Josofina, Aña, Kathleen, Dad

Aña showing the ancient cannon balls used in wars between Portugal and España.  Luis welded them to the door.  

Dad and Luis in the Studio office

The top plaque is of the monument Luis made in memory of my Mother and sits outside the city jardin in Barcarotta

Here is one of the many tiles found along the outside walls on the narrow streets in the old portion of Badajoz.  This tile depicts an older Badajoz

This statue is in honor and memoriy of the España´s greatest Flamenco singers and his guitar player.  Most of us in America think of the dancers, but the singers sing the history of the revoluation and of the hardships of the average man.  Before the revolution, average people could not own land, and these songs.

St. Augustine´s Cathedrahl

The statute of St. Augustine above the church entrance

Spain is known as the ¨orange¨policitically, and many of the plaza´s are lined with the beautiful orange trees.  They are sour orange, and are very beautiful, but inedible.

This is the main gate from the river that seperates Portugal from España.  The two countries still fight over the borders.  THe old city was completely walled and they are restoring the old wall and city.  When they closed these gates in the 14th century, the city was pretty well protected and impentrable.  

 These next 3 photos are the seal of the city.  If the city was taken, the attackers would then have the seals and could show that they had taken the city.  Now they are in cases in the sidewalk on the España side of the river.  España does still hold about another 5 km west of the bridge.

 Here is part of the old city wall and castle that is being excavated and restored

More of the excavation being done by the University´s Archeological Department.  It is a huge project that costs a lot of money, but they are progressing nicely

 More of the old wall

 These next two photos are of the gardens they are restoring around the original castle

A view from the castle looking into the old city

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quntam physics, shopping and favorite things

Mañana, yesterday we spent quietly adjusting to our new climate and recharging in the casa of our beloveds.  We slept late, had a long breakfast, sat and felt the cool morning temperatures raise with the intense Spanish sun under a cloudless and endless blue sky.  It is no hotter then Florida, and no humidity, so as the Spanards fan themselves and sweat pulling curtains and moving into cooler portions of the house, I revel in climate so similiar and not as my home.  

Josafino came home and fixed the mid day meal, and we spoke our broken languages finding ways to communicate with each other.  They are upset they can not show the propert hospitality by speaking to us, I am the one in their country and should be able to do more then spit a few words out with no consideration for grammar.  We laugh at ourselves and know that the most things do not need to be said between us, we can feel them in our hearts.

About 10 it was time to go to dinner, so we walked down to the square of the Flamenco Singer.  There is a lovely statute and I took some photos of it.  I will have to post the photos later, I have been trying now for an hour and do not know what I am doing wrong, but the photos will not come up on the post.  

We then walked around the narrow streets, a combination of bricks and rocks and pavement, Luis insisted on pushing Dad the entire way.  We stopped at another plaza near a beautiful cathedrial, pictures to be included at another time.  The night was beautiful and because this is a festival time the streets were full of people of all ages all having a wonderful time.  We again stopped for a drink and tapas and now it was after 11:00 so we walked the short couple of blocks to home.  Luis looked at me and said, Ï speak very good English¨ Then we laughed because that is all that Luis can say in English.

I went straight to bed and as I almost fell alseep I had a panic attack.  I guess I was just tired and stressed enough that it was ready to come crashing down on my head.  I took a couple of ativan.  I tore everything I own apart, no wallet.  I lay back down.  I breathed deeply, I said, Ï can  not make a difference right now, so go to sleep, rest and in the morning you will figure this out.¨ Slept with one ear open.  We have given him a bell to ring if he needs anything and after I had fallen asleep a heard a bell.  I jumped up and ran out of my room.  Dad´s door across the breeze way was closed, no light, no noise.  I slipped quietly over and cracked his door.  He was fast asleep.  I must have been dreaming.  I laid back down and went to sleep.  I heard the bell ring again.  I checked on Dad, he is still peacefully asleep.  I go back to bed, and think, Quantam physics, every possibility is out there until we focus on a point.  So I must be more open to what is making the bell sound.  I lay awake on my bed, breathing deeply, trying to relax and still my mind and so many worries.

The bell rang again.  But this time since I was not focused on Dad I realized it was coming from outside the window.  I look out, and there is a man on a bike with a bell.  I laughed to myself, closed the window and went back to sleep.  This morning I woke and said, be in control, tell your brain to see the wallet.  You know you have it.  And I picked up my purse, unzipped the first pocket.  A pocket I have looked into more then a dozen times and there was the wallet.  That easy.  Just tell your brain there are more possibilities and truly believe it, and it worked.  

Such a perfect way to start the day, so I got dressed, went downstairs and found the map that Luis and Josafino had left out for me.  They had kindly marked the house, so I stepped out into the narrow, twisting and confusing world of a town built centuries ago and then added onto, and turned toward the plaza of the Flamenco singer and started to walk.  It was cool and the streets were not as full as the night before.  Now instead of sitting out along the road, people were in the cafeterias and restruarants eating breakfast and drinking cups of coffee.  I followed my nose to a Cubano pastery shop.  The night before I had seen a bottle of the acorn liquor.  This is similiar to Amerrato, but not as sweet.  You can buy it in the US, but for mucho mucho dinero.  Here it is about 5 euros.  I asked for 2, then  picking one of the bottles, I realize that it did not feel much heavier then the big cheeses I have in my bags.  So I asked for one more (yes, Pat that is yours).  I walked around and took pictures of the orange trees that line the square of Espana.  I took pictures of the little flags hanging across the narrow little streets, of paintings and art and flowers.  Then I looked at the map, and carefully headed back to the casa.  I made a few wrong turns, but eventually found my way to the house.  Dad was still asleep.  It was almost 11 so I woke Dad.  

It had been a pefect morning, I had my acorn liquour, I found my wallet, in tack.  My credit card is cancelled, but that just means I can not spend as much money.  Nothing wrong with that.  I fixed Dad´s breakfast, Josafino had brought him some English language newspapers.  I looked at them, but put them down, murder, plane wrecks, floods, protests.......  There is nothing I can do for any of this or any people at this moment, so there is no reason to stress myself out.  

It is almost 2 and Dad is writing his postcards, I sent mine from The Netherlands.  The heat is wrapping around the houses and coutyards and people.  The world here is slowing down as people close their shops and find a place for a quiet siesta.  A place to endure the heat.  I look out on the courtyard and feel the heat and the sunshine, and it is different.  The sun is different here then in any country.  I consider going up to the pool and floating in the crystal water.  A possibility to consider.  

This afternoon, Luis will take us to go and pick up Ana and we shall take a driving tour of Badajoz.  Tomorrow he will drive us to Baracarrotta.  It is a good vacation.  Hard, and Dad is not strong enough to be here, but we are here, and this is where he wants to be, so I do the best I can to give him one last visit here.  One last time in this glorious land of sun and heat and skies so blue and yet so different then the humid blue of home.  Dad writes his postcards slowly, napping between sentences.  The family dog moves from spot to spot finding the cool.  Luis is in the studio office working.  I am only disappointed in not being able to show you the photos I went out especially this morning to take to post here.  I have the photos and will post them at another time when things re working better. 

Now it is time for siesta, and I am being pulled by the tradition to lay my head down and rest.  To sleep through the hours of het, to prepare for more adventures this evening.  I am growing tired, maybe it is the heat, maybe it is being away from my home and beloved ones.  Maybe it is the excitement, or the physical strain of the choice I made to do this journey.  I still have no regrets, and everything is going so well, and I am filling with so many memories of precious moements.  Like sitting in the night under the heavens on the other side of the world from my beloveds, and yet sitting with my beloved.  Eating olives and queso, drinking agua con gas, listening to the sounds and smelling the smells of a place so different and so familiar.  

Again I am reminded of how very grateful I am for this amazing life and journey I am on.  And the cancer?  I would have taken this trip even without the cancer, we had planned to do so.  But my patience and tolerance is much higher now.  Now that life has a different perspective.  Now that my time is as precious to me as my father´s time.  Now that I understand that I can do for myself, and in doing so, I give more to those I love.  

Sweet sleep under flawless blue skies so filled with the bright energy of the sun.  Tomorrow after breakfast we head to Barcarotta.  I will post again when I can.  If not until I get home, know that I am thinking of you all.  and when I say; Ï miss you and wish you were here¨, that those words are from my heart with all the wish that I can send to you.  The bands are playing outside for the festival, and I hope to sleep with the notes of the horns as they wave on the heat into my window.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Additional post to Challenges

We will be walking a few blocks away to the plaza where I saw the Flamenco singer to one of the little tapas bars for dinner.  Luis and Josafino were nervous because Dad had a very hard fall on the tile floors.  He was very very upset and could not get off his knees.  He had crawled quite aways trying to find something to help him up.  I had the airconditioner in my room on and my door shut and did not hear him fall.  Luis heard him cry out and came for me.  I am afraid to go against my father when he is down and to try and get him up.  He yells,¨no,no¨so I stop.  Luis does not understand English and just pulled him up with no problem.  I turned the air off, and opened the window, it was very cool and a beautiful night, well, except for all the city noises I am not used to.  But this way I could hear him when he opened his door to go to the bathroom and I got up each time to help him up and down the stairs.  This morning I asked if we could move Dad from the guest room to Luis Jrs room where there are no steps to the bathroom and the same number of steps to the elevator.  They said fine, and now he is doing much better.  Luis comes up to get him on the elevator and helps him up and down.  This is a huge help for me, and Luis loves my father so much.   

Also ¨doctor¨Luis and I as the assistant looked at Dad´s hand.  It is ugly, but not so bad as a real doctor could help, so Luis fixed him right up, then pulled out a huge knife.  I knew what he was doing so I put a cutting board under Dad´s arm and we argued where we should cut the arm off.  I said he could not wear the watch where Luis wanted to cut, so he moved the knifed down a bit and said he could wear it on the knub.  Luis and I laughed and laughed, Dad looked stunned at us, then threw his hands up and walked to the living room, he knew we were kidding, I hope.  hee hee

This afternoon I took a long siesta, my nights of sleep are very broken listening to noises I am not used and for sleeping lightly to listen for  Daddy.  So the siesta was wonderful.  Now Ana is home to translate and Dad is up and Luis is taking him on a tour of the pool area.  Dad has seen it before, but not for years and the olive trees are doing so well, and it is gorgeous.  Here are some closeups I did not include earlier:

The olive trees

The flowers in these pots hang down over the front of the house.

Dinner here is late, usually 10:00 or later.  But they are good to me, and we eat early, about 9:30.  Tonight because we go to a tapas bar, we will be able to eat ¨early¨again tonigt.  Off to see the family and then show Ana my blog.  

But for a treat, here is a link showing you an art project that the Institute of Art here in Badajoz, that Luis is the head of did.  It is art for the people.  He is very respected and a wonderful artist, and he loves his cigars.  I will post more links and photos later.

So adios, from this beautiful country for now, I hope to have time tomorrow to post again.  It helps me to remember all the wonderful things I am getting to do.  I am so grateful for this opportunity, and for this time spent with my father, and for time with these very beloved people of ours.  And all my love to you my dear beloved ones, I miss you and hope that someday we can come back together here.

Challenges and a day filled with travel

Yesterday we woke to the most beautiful blue sunny day in the Netherlands.  Everyone said of course the day you are leaving it will be sunny.  I said that it was wishing us well on the rest of our trip.  It had been a late night filled with lots of family and laughing, talking, coffee and catching up with dear friends.  I took pictures of all the families, that ane connected with one heart, and we are so lucky  to be part of all this love.

Sjaak and Joyce took us to the airport in Amsterdam, it is less then an hour from their house, and good traffic yesterday.  We all held our tears in check with hugs and kisses and promises of visits on both sides of the pond.

Dad and I made it through the airport very well with lots of help and the kindness of strangers and every airport assistance they had,  I think.  All was going so well, until I realized that I did not have my wallet.  The last time I remember seeing it was on the farm, but they have looked in the car, around where the car was, in my room, in the entire house, and no wallet.  I was sick, but did my best to not cry and stay calm so as not to worry dad.  Travelling is so very very hard on him and I did not want to add anything to that.  But of course I was terrified that the worse possible scenario and someone was out emptying my bank account and running up my credit card.  But I was also trying hard to remember what I might have done with it, and using the theory of quantam physics, that everything is a wave of possiblities until you focus on one point.  I tried to see all the positive points in the wave hoping that even though I have not worked or practiced at this, any positive thoughts might help.  And it did by keeping me calm. 

The flight from Amsterdam to Madrid was pleasent enough and then we had almost 5 hours in Madrid to wait for the once a day flight to Badajoz.  Dad was tired and sitting in a wheel chair for that long isn´t good on anyone.  He would try every hour to get up and stand for a little while, but even that was hard, but it was better on his knees then sitting the entire day.  The plane was delayed so our 5 hours turned into 6, but then it was time to take the shuttle plane to our final destination and to our beloved Luis and Josifina, and if we were lucky to see Ana, their daughter and maybe even Luis and his wife Beline.  Getting dad to the plane and into it was a bit of a challenge.  It took 2 wheel chairs and more men then I can count.  Sweet, dear, strong helpful men who were so kind and tried so hard to keep humor about caring a man of about 176 pounds and extremely limited mobility up some treacherous ladder like stairs and then through an aisle in a plane that was not big enough, really, for their smallest wheel chair.  But we were loaded, dad was a little banged up, but all in all, no so bad.  Again because the kindness of strangers.  

We arrived in Badajoz less then an hour later and now came the ordeal of getting him out of the plane.  Two very big manly men came and again as gently as possible moved him from the plane to his waiting wheel chair below.  There were a few moments of confusion with the chair, but we got him in it and settled, then as I leaned over to show them what to do with the feet pads my back pack swung out and hit dad on the hand, giving him a huge deep gash just slicing his thin delicate skin open.  He cringed in pain and we all looked down in horror.  I had not eaten well and my stomach was queesy, but I focused on him and one of the manly men ran to get the firstaid box.  They cleaned it then wrapped it tight with guaze and taped it.  I kept insiting he keep it up above his heart to minimize bleeding until it could set.  I know he got tired of hearing me say that, but I thought it would cause less throbbing today.  We will look at it today to see what must be done.

But then we rounded the corner and there was the beautiful Ana smiling and our beloved Luis beaming at us.  It felt so good after such a long day to run into their welcoming arms.  Luis took us home via one of the new plazas that depicts the history of Spain.  He has a statue of the President of Peace.  This is the leader of Spain who defeated Napolean in this country and brought peace.

These are his studies made before making the nearly 3 meter tall monument standing in a center portion of the plaze de history of Espana

Here is Luis, the famous artist.  He is also the Head of the Art Institute here in Badajoz (pronounced by the locals as Badajo)

He is holding a plaque from my Father and I to him saying what a great amigo he is to our familia.  The medal is won from when Mother was the Alcadaza of Ybor City.

Here are are some more of Luis´s studies from his home studio:

This is one of my favorites ¨Tres Poet¨depicting the three most famous poets of Espana.  It stands in a small park as you come in from one of the brigdes leading into town.

This is a study Luis made for the horse in the Plaza of Hernando deSoto in Barcoratta.  Hern is a solid bronze lifesize statute in full armor and head gear, I will try and get a picture of that when we go to Barcarotta later this week.

This study of the statute commissioned by a local casino is of Lady Luck

As you can see he is very talented artist, and sweet, funny, and a very much go to guy.  You want it, Luis knows the person who can get it.  Cigars?  got it!  Melon? got it!  Wine? got it!  Job? got it!  He is loved and respected here in Badajoz for many reasons, and also in his home town of Barcarotta.  

Barcarotta is the town that claims to be the birth place of Hernando deSoto.  Bradenton claims to be the first place he landed in Florida.    That is the connection between my family and Espana, The Hernando deSoto Society.  They elect a new Hern each year and Daddy was Hernando in 1987.

The house that Luis and Josafino live in was originally a guild house built in 1844 and then renovations began in the 70s and I think they have lived here and finished the inside renovations about 20 years ago and it is a gorgeous home.  Here are some pictures:

Street in front of their home

Plaque on corner of the house
Outside front door leading into the courtyard

Inside of the door

Dining room

looking outside the living room into the courtyard

The courtyard, Luis´s studio is behind the hearth in the back of the courtyard and is expansive and airy.  A lovely place to create.  Sometimes his pieces are too big to make in the studio so he makes then in the courtyard and then a crane lifts them out to be bronzed.  He sculpts in a type of clay and then a mold is made from that and the bronze statute made from there.

The third floor is where the pool is, and there is a full basement used as storage and a root cellar.  

Here is the inside of the actual front entrance to the house.  I have never seen it used, because friends all come in through the courtyard, or as we think in America, the back door.

It is a glorious day with clear blue skies, cool temperatures that will get warm by the afternoon.  It is quiet with Josafino at work at the school and Luis in the studio doing some business.  In the middle of the night Luis called me, dad had fallen on the hard tile floor and could not get up.  After that I turned off the fan in my room, and opened the door back up so I can hear him.  Tonight we are putting a bell in his room and when he needs help, he can ring it and I will go to help him.  

It is almost mid day, and dad is up and getting dressed.  I will make some breakfast, I am starving, but just now realized it.  I have been so busy helping me in and out of his room and up and down the stairs.  I have moved him from the nice big guest room into Luis Jrs old bedroom where there are no stairs between him and the bathroom.  There are stairs he must go up and then down to get to the elevator, but just a few, so we can do this.  

My Spanish is dismal, and Josafino´s English the same, but the men are completely monolingual, but seem to get along and understand each other quiet well.  So I let them go at it, and just translate, or try with Josafino when it is important to understand.  Everyone has made lots of plans for us on this trip and we will be very busy and lots of parties and dinner and visits, if I understood properly.  

I am calm and happy in these beautiful surrondings with such dear beloved ones.  They all worry about me terribly and try to do everything for me because I have cancer.  My backbone and hard head straighten up, and I smile, gracias, I will do it for myself, por favor.  They are adjusting, but they knew my mother and she also was a hard headed woman.

I am looking forward to all the fun, oh!  And when we were first pulling into Badajoz, I recognized a man sitting in a plaza.  I said, there is the most famous Flaminco singer just sitting there.  They all laughed that I should recognize and remember him.  He does not dance, he sings the revolutionary songs of the Flaminco.  I felt like I was coming home, with familiar sounds and sights and people.  It has been too long since I have been here.  But I am here now, and for the last time with my father, and we shall remember these days always with such love.

Until later.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Walks, boatrides, cartrips and family

Yesterday the weather cleared in the afternoon so when Dad laid down to take his nap, I pulled on my raincoat, got a map and directions from Sjaak and headed out for a a walk.  I headed south from the farm until I came to a path that cuts across the pastures into town.

 The road in front of the farm
The path cutting through the pasture

The sun was shining more then it rained and it was cool and lovely and a very brish wind would suddenly blow up making the bikers lean into the wind struggling to make headway.  For walking through a pasture, there were lots of sights to see:

Black and whte Jersey cows

A sculpture of a stork.  They love their storks in the Netherlands

I could hear the catholic church bells ringing and ringing and when I got there it was a wedding with a horse drawn carriage that brought the bride and her father to the church and then would take the newly weds away from the church after the ceremony:

You can just see the beautiful bride on her father's arm entering the cathedral

Here is a better pictures of the carriage as they wait to return to pick up the happy couple

I loved this site, with the modern tractor and the horse and carriage.  The horses were not thrilled with the tractor at all.  The tractor pulls a trailer behind it with hay bales and they take families for hay rides around the town.

 I walked around the town looking at all the lovely little apartments and houses.  It seems like everyone has a garden of some type.  Some are quite industrious and have beautiful veggie gardens that are as lovely as the flower gardens.

The gardens along the canals are so lovely

This garden mixes veggies, herbs and flowers all together into a very clever use of the small available space.

The Netherlands, the local people we know never refer to their country as Holland.  They do not call their language Dutch, they call it Nederlander.  I am not sure that is how it is spelt, but that is how it sounds to this American's ears.

As the rain clouds built I headed north until I came to the sport park and then turned east and headed back to the farm.  We had Chinese takeout, yes, Nederlander Chinse takeout.  It is one of the families favorite dinners, and the table was overflowing with boxes of food of every variety.  We "old" people sat around the table and talked until we were exhausted, about 11.  The girls had a night in and put masks on their faces and ate junk food, baked brownies, drank wine, watched movies, and giggled and laughed, emailed and texted their friends and had a wonderful time together.

This morning we got up after a very bad rain storm last night and it was raining.  Sjaak, Karin, Dad and I pured ourselves into the auto and drove to Rotterdam to take a tour boat down the river:

This is the tour boat

 Getting on the boat

Dad, Kathleen, Sjaak and Karin

We rode down the river towards the north sea, but it is too rough for this boat, especially on a day like today, so we did not get down very far, they talked about the history of this beautiful old town and then about the commerce from the port and about all the buildings old and new along the way.  Rotterdam is a city with the old and the new all mixed up together and I love how they keep the old and then build the giant new around the older buildings, that really are not that old because the town was completely flattened by the German aircraft in WWII.  They rebuilt the city bigger and better, but used a lot of the older style of the buildings when they rebuilt.

The new and the old all mixed together, and of course, what is the Netherlands without a windmill or two.

They have some of the most bizarre buildings, loving this style of the top sticking out over the bottom.  They have such an eclectic eye with the patterns and shapes and special touches on the buildings. 

After the boat ride we drove around Rotterdam a bit then headed south to Brielle.  Brielle is a very special walled city that was saved from Napolean by the other Nederlanders and the Belgium people coming in like the calvary and flooding all the land around it, forcing Napolean and his troups to leave the area because no food and theland too mucky to manuveur in.  So his plans to wait out and starve the people was stopped.  The clever Belguims and Nederlanders saved several cities this way. 

But as a professional clown, retired, what was most special to me about this lovely old city was the fact that when the Nederlanders won back their city from the Spanish it was April first and the spokesperson went to the King of Spain and told him that the city had been taken.  This was an impossible task in his mind and he said, "This is a joke." and hence force April first has been known as joke day or as in America, April Fools day.  I never in my wildest dreams would have known that was the origin of the word.  Maybe next April First I will tell you some of my stories of celebrating April Fools day over the years.  But for now, I feel like I have gone to my mecca.  The holy place for clowns, Tom Foolery and his merry band of joksters.    Here are a couple pictures of Breille: 

This is where we had lunch

And of course, what would a trip to the Netherlands be with windmills.  The windmills are used to pump the water constantly off the land.    Most of the land of the Netherlands was pumped out of the rivers and the oceans, and over the centuries it is settling, so now the land is much lower again and so they must continue to pump the water off.  Here are some old and new windmills.  The new ones are for electricity and the old for water:

The family is all here laughing and talking and drinking coffee with cookies and I snuck away to finish this and send it off.  Also for a little quite and a moment with out quetions.  I love our family here, they have adopted us, but like any family, sometimes, a little break and quiet is good also.

Tomorrow to Spain, but for now, my constant companion here, Boris and I say good night.