I just wanted to share a photo with you of a small door that I painted some time ago. Now that the oil paints have dried thoroughly, I am going to varnish it with shellac. The door is from an old wooden dresser of hip-height, and is a style typical of Spain (I live in Córdoba). Unfortunately, apart from having been weather-beaten and sorely neglected, it was definitely rough around the edges, a testament to its antiquity. I hadn’t mistreated it, but found it in this state lying on top of a load of rubble in a skip. I love to hunt out these small treasures and then breathe a little life into them.
So here it is:
The wood is solid beech, and it weighs about 2 kilos. (I am selling it though, if anyone’s interested…)
I couldn’t end this post without including a poem by the Indian poet, RabindranathTagore, who mentions a door in his lovely poem, The Gardener.
Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.
From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.
Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) a Bengali from Calcutta, was poet, writer,playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. In 1913 he became the first non-European and the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. His poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his «elegant prose and magical poetry» remain largely unknown outside Bengal.
Hi folks! I hope you are all coping okay, especially in these worrying and sad times…
I just wanted to share a couple of photos with you from my early morning walk, here in my local countryside of Posadas (a village in the province of Andalusia, lying about 35 miles west of the historic town of Córdoba).
As you can see, I was well-accompanied by my six of my fifteen (I think) cats.
“How we behave towards cats here below, determines our status in heaven.”
— Robert A. Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) an American science fiction author, aeronautical engineer and naval officer. Together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the «Big Three» of English-language science fiction authors. His works include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
When I arrived back, my (destructive) mastiff puppies were only too pleased to help me untie my laces!
«The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man’s.»
— Mark Twain; his real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), was an American writer, humourist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the «greatest humourist the United States has produced», and «the father of American literature.” His novels included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
(However, judging by the above photo, I’m not so sure about the gentleman bit!)
Before I sign off though, I just wanted to share a site I found and now love on the homemade-crafts Etsy shop, called Costurero Real. No, I’m not promoting myself, nor a friend or relative, but just some lovely hair slides that I came across when looking for a clip for my hair. He or she does some beautiful work, and I’ll be buying the blue butterfly for my hair. It’s so pretty! I love butterflies, and though it might be a bit young for my age, I just can’t resist it! You can see his or her workby clicking here.
(I’m going to order the blue one). They also have leather leaves and moths and butterfly capes! All very lovely and woodlandy!
PS. I hope I’m not infringing any copyrights, but I think it’ll be alright as I am sort-of advertising for them…
Well, that’s all for now. As usual, your comments are always welcome, I love the interaction!
I just wanted to share this sunrise photo with you. In the background you can see the impressive, haunted, Christian-cum-Moorish castle of Almodóvar del Río, stage set for various films and ads. These include:
1967, Camelot, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero
1972, the famous Martini advert
1986, Harem / Dardanelos with Ava Gadner, Nancy Traver, Omar Sharif and Silvia Marsó
2002 the children’s Dutch series Pippo
2015, the Russian singer’s Tiger Cave video clip
2019 a Budweiser advert
And more recently, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and chapter 3 of Netflix’s Warrior Nun, as well asvarious documentaries that took place in between.
The castle, its surrounding villages of Almodóvar del Río, Posadas and Hornachuelos that lie in the Guadalquivir Valley close to the historic town of Cordova, are really well-worth a visit! They are steeped in a rich history and culture, and are replete with traditions. The landscape is beautiful too, varying from flat valleys that rise to the imposing Sierra Morena in the north. (You can find a description of these places in my earlier blogs.)
Well, before leaving I would also like to close with a classic poem about Spanish castles, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Castles in Spain
How much of my young heart, O Spain,
Went out to thee in days of yore! What dreams romantic filled my brain, And summoned back to life again The Paladins of Charlemagne, The Cid Campeador!
And shapes more shadowy than these, In the dim twilight half revealed; Phoenician galleys on the seas, The Roman camps like hives of bees, The Goth uplifting from his knees Pelayo on his shield.
It was these memories perchance, From annals of remotest eld, That lent the colors of romance To every trivial circumstance, And changed the form and countenance Of all that I beheld.
Old towns, whose history lies hid In monkish chronicle or rhyme,– Burgos, the birthplace of the Cid, Zamora and Valladolid, Toledo, built and walled amid The wars of Wamba’s time;
The long, straight line of the highway, The distant town that seems so near, The peasants in the fields, that stay Their toil to cross themselves and pray, When from the belfry at midday The Angelus they hear;
White crosses in the mountain pass, Mules gay with tassels, the loud din Of muleteers, the tethered ass That crops the dusty wayside grass, And cavaliers with spurs of brass Alighting at the inn;
White hamlets hidden in fields of wheat, White cities slumbering by the sea, White sunshine flooding square and street, Dark mountain ranges, at whose feet The river beds are dry with heat,– All was a dream to me.
Yet something sombre and severe O’er the enchanted landscape reigned; A terror in the atmosphere As if King Philip listened near, Or Torquemada, the austere, His ghostly sway maintained.
The softer Andalusian skies Dispelled the sadness and the gloom; There Cadiz by the seaside lies, And Seville’s orange-orchards rise, Making the land a paradise Of beauty and of bloom.
There Cordova is hidden among The palm, the olive, and the vine; Gem of the South, by poets sung, And in whose Mosque Ahmanzor hung As lamps the bells that once had rung At Compostella’s shrine.
But over all the rest supreme, The star of stars, the cynosure, The artist’s and the poet’s theme, The young man’s vision, the old man’s dream,– Granada by its winding stream, The city of the Moor!
And there the Alhambra still recalls Aladdin’s palace of delight; Allah il Allah! through its halls Whispers the fountain as it falls, The Darro darts beneath its walls, The hills with snow are white.
Ah yes, the hills are white with snow, And cold with blasts that bite and freeze; But in the happy vale below The orange and pomegranate grow, And wafts of air toss to and fro The blossoming almond trees.
The Vega cleft by the Xenil, The fascination and allure Of the sweet landscape chains the will; The traveller lingers on the hill, His parted lips are breathing still The last sigh of the Moor.
How like a ruin overgrown With flowers that hide the rents of time, Stands now the Past that I have known; Castles in Spain, not built of stone But of white summer clouds, and blown Into this little mist of rhyme!
A very beautiful poem, encompassing many parts of Spain and touching on its history.
Sorry, it’s short and sweet this time, because at 45° C (113° F) it’s far too hot to sit up and write. (The air conditioning has to go off at 5:30 in the afternoon because we rely on solar panels and electricity’s limited!…..)
Even the cat had to find a cool place to sit!…
“Cats have it all — admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.”
—Rod McKuen(April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) (American singer-songwriter, actor and poet, Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows)
Hi folks! I’m back again and I hope this finds you all well!
I just wanted to share this photo with you: it is what my son was confronted with when opening the well on his olive-tree finca. It might not be very clear at first sight, but if you take a closer look you should be able to see a nice, fat, juicy, khaki-coloured snake coiled up and half-hiding under one of the water tubes. Luckily it didn’t raise its ugly head (poor thing!) so the well lid was immediately dropped back down and hasn’t been reopened in a while. I’m not exactly sure as to what type of snake it is (there are no diamond markings on its back so it’s not a poisonous viper). It could be the mildly venomous Malpolon monspessulanus (Culebra bastarda — sounds rude, doesn’t it?!), or a Macroprotodon (Western false smooth snake), with a pretty harmless bite.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, and before moving onto another longish story (if you have the time and patience!), this event brought to mind one ofIdries Shah’s tales, entitled The Man, the Snake and the Stone, taken from his Caravan of Dreams.
So here’s the man:
And here’s the story:—
The Man, the Snake and the Stone — Idries Shah, Caravan of Dreams
One day a man who had not a care in the world was walking along a road. An unusual object to one side of him caught his eye. ‘I must find out what this is,’ he said to himself.
As he came up to it, he saw that it was a large, very flat stone.
‘I must find out what is underneath this,’ he told himself. And he lifted the stone.
No sooner had he done so than he heard a loud, hissing sound, and a huge snake came gliding out from a hole under the stone. The man dropped the stone in alarm. The snake wound itself into a coil, and said to him:
‘Now I am going to kill you, for I am a venomous snake.’
‘But I have released you,’ said the man, ‘how can you repay good with evil? Such an action would not accord with reasonable behaviour.’
‘In the first place,’ said the snake, ‘you lifted the stone from curiosity and in ignorance of the possible consequences. How can this now suddenly become “I have released you”?’
‘We must always try to return to reasonable behaviour, when we stop to think,’ murmured the man.
‘Return to it when you think invoking it might suit your interests,’ said the snake.
‘Yes,’ said the man, ‘I was a fool to expect reasonable behaviour from a snake.’
‘From a snake, expect snake-behaviour,’ said the snake. ‘To a snake, snake-behaviour is what can be regarded as reasonable.’
‘Now I am going to kill you,’ it continued.
‘Please do not kill me,’ said the man, ‘give me another chance. You have taught me about curiosity, reasonable behaviour and snake-behaviour. Now you would kill me before I can put this knowledge into action.’
‘Very well,’ said the snake, ‘I shall give you another chance. I shall come along with you on your journey. We will ask the next creature whom we meet, who shall be neither a man nor a snake, to adjudicate between us.’
The man agreed, and they started on their way.
Before long they came to a flock of sheep in a field. The snake stopped, and the man cried to the sheep:
‘Sheep, sheep, please save me! This snake intends to kill me. If you tell him not to do so he will spare me. Give a verdict in my favour, for I am a man, the friend of sheep.’
One of the sheep answered:
‘We have been put out into this field after serving a man for many years. We have given him wool year after year, and now that we are old, tomorrow he will kill us for mutton. That is the measure of the generosity of men. Snake, kill that man!’
The snake reared up and his green eyes glittered as he said to the man: ‘This is how your friends see you. I shudder to think what your enemies are like!’
‘Give me one more chance,’ cried the man in desperation. ‘Please let us find someone else to give an opinion, so that my life may be spared.’
‘I do not want to be as unreasonable as you think I am,’ said the snake, ‘and I will therefore continue in accordance with your pattern, and not with mine. Let us ask the next individual whom we may meet – being neither a man nor a snake – what your fate is to be.’
The man thanked the snake, and they continued on their journey.
Presently they came upon a lone horse, standing hobbled in a field. The snake addressed him:
‘Horse, horse, why are you hobbled like that?’
The horse said:
‘For many years I served a man. He gave me food, for which I had not asked, and he taught me to serve him. He said that this was in exchange for the food and stable. Now that I am too infirm to work, he has decided to sell me soon for horse-meat. I am hobbled because the man thinks that if I roam over this field I will eat too much of his grass.’
‘Do not make this horse my judge, for God’s sake!’ exclaimed the man.
‘According to our compact,’ said the snake inexorably, ‘this man and I have agreed to have our case judged by you.’
He outlined the matter, and the horse said:
‘Snake, it is beyond my capabilities and not in my nature to kill a man. But I feel that you, as a snake, have no alternative but to do so if a man is in your power.’
‘If you will give me just one more chance,’ begged the man, ‘I am sure that something will come to my aid. I have been unlucky on this journey so far, and have only come across creatures who have a grudge. Let us therefore choose some animal which has no such knowledge and hence no generalised animosity towards my kind.’
‘People do not know snakes,’ said the snake, ‘and yet they seem to have a generalised animosity towards them. But I am willing to give you just one more chance.’
They continued their journey.
Soon they saw a fox, lying asleep under a bush beside the road. The man woke the fox gently, and said:
‘Fear nothing, brother fox. My case is such-and-such, and my future depends upon your decision. The snake will give me no further chance, so only your generosity or altruism can help me.’
The fox thought for a moment, and then he said:
‘I am not sure that only generosity or altruism can operate here. But I will engage myself in this matter. In order to come to a decision I must rely upon something more than hearsay. We must demonstrate as well. Come, let us return to the beginning of your journey, and examine the facts on the spot.’
They returned to where the first encounter had taken place.
‘Now we will reconstruct the situation,’ said the fox; ‘snake, be so good as to take your place once more, in your hole under that flat stone.’
The man lifted the stone, and the snake coiled itself up in the hollow beneath it. The man let the stone fall.
The snake was now trapped again, and the fox, turning to the man, said: ‘We have returned to the beginning. The snake cannot get out unless you release him. He leaves our story at this point.’
‘Thank you, thank you,’ said the man, his eyes full of tears.
‘Thanks are not enough, brother,’ said the fox. ‘In addition to generosity and altruism there is the matter of my payment.’
‘How can you enforce payment?’ asked the man.
‘Anyone who can solve the problem which I have just concluded,’ said the fox, ‘is well able to take care of such a detail as that. I again invite you to recompense me, from fear if not from any sense of justice. Shall we call it, in your words, being “reasonable”?’
The man said:
‘Very well, come to my house and I will give you a chicken.’
They went to the man’s house. The man went into his chicken-coop, and came back in a moment with a bulging sack. The fox seized it and was about to open it when the man said:
‘Friend fox, do not open the sack here. I have human neighbours and they should not know that I am co-operating with a fox. They might kill you, as well as censuring me.’
‘That is a reasonable thought,’ said the fox; ‘what do you suggest I do?’
‘Do you see that clump of trees yonder?’ said the man, pointing. ‘Yes,’ said the fox.
‘You run with the sack into that cover, and you will be able to enjoy your meal unmolested.’
The fox ran off.
As soon as he reached the trees a party of hunters, whom the man knew would be there, caught him. He leaves our story here.
And the man? His future is yet to come.
Moral of the story? Perhaps something like: you never know what might be under a rock, or in a clever man’s mind… (although knowing the Sufis, it probably isn’t that simple!)
Well, thank you for bearing with me — take care! xxx
I left early for my morning walk the other day because the sun’s already quite piquant and temperatures were forecasted to rise to 35° C = 95° F — yippee and yikes!
I came across lots of curry plant that’s in full flower, and yes, it certainly does smell of curry, and no, I don’t use it in my cooking, although I should really, and below you’ll see why.
The proper name for this plant is Helichrysum italicum (which I had to copy and paste because I didn’t trust myself with correctly reproducing these words if physically written out).
Well, after I did some research into this plant I realised just how rich it is in beneficial properties and below are just some of them:
According to the UIC Heritage Garden‘The curry plant is well-known for the oil extracted from its flowers. The oil has medicinal properties that can heal burned skin or chapped lips. It serves as an anti-inflammatory and fungicidal astringent for skin’.
Additionally, it is used as an anticoagulant, can reduce the risk of heart attacks, dissolve blood clots and can be used to treat coughing and fever. The oil also reduces anxiety and stress; it helps fade scars, heal cuts or wounds and can be used as a moisturizer.
As far as food is concerned, the plant’s young shoots and leaves are used in Mediterranean dishes for salads and to give meat, fish, or vegetable flavour, the flowers for herbal tea and the oil used as flavouring in ice creams, sweets, drinks, baked food, chewing gum etc.
So the conclusion is… I guess I’ll be using this plant after all!
I’d just like to end with this quote from the theoretical physicist Einstein(taken from a long list of his many very interesting quotes). Though, ‘What has Einstein got to do with the curry plant?’ I hear you ask. Well, as far as I know — nothing! It’s just that I was doing Einstein in my English conversation class the other day, and we were reading some of his quotes. So here it is:
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
— Albert Einstein (Born: 14 March 1879 Wurttemberg, German Empire — died: 18 April 1955, aged 76, New Jersey U.S.)
Just a couple of lines to explain and excuse myself from my lack of blog activity over the last few weeks — I am very busy translating a book from Spanish to English, so at the end of the day my eyes are quite tired and my body a bit cramped and I find it rather strenuous to then continue writing more. Instead, I try to do some physical work to compensate: I either go for a walk, or attack the ever-flourishing weeds in my vegetable patch.
However, I do continue to read your blogs, even if a little late! So please bear with me (might be for quite a while) …
To finish with, here’s a photo: Sunday was Mother’s Day here in Spain, so here’s my booty! And Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers and grandmothers, even if you’re not in Spain!
“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.” — Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949, Hampshire England – 15 December 2011).
Christopher Hitchens was certainly a very colourful man, as far as thinking, reasoning, debating and philosophy is concerned.
He was ‘an English intellectual, polemicist, and socio-political critic who expressed himself as an author, orator, essayist, journalist, and columnist. He was the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays on culture, politics, and literature.’ (Wikipedia).
He was an anti-theist and his dictum,«What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence»is now known as Hitchen’s Razor.
In short, he was quite a character and as you can see from the above quote, he even went as far as discussing and concluding the differences between cats and dogs!
Thank you for reading. I hope this finds you well — take care!xxx
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers, From the seas and the streams; I bear light shade for the leaves when laid In their noonday dreams. From my wings are shaken the dews that waken The sweet buds every one, When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast, As she dances about the sun. I wield the flail of the lashing hail, And whiten the green plains under, And then again I dissolve it in rain, And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below, And their great pines groan aghast; And all the night ‘tis my pillow white, While I sleep in the arms of the blast. Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers, Lightning my pilot sits; In a cavern under is fettered the thunder, It struggles and howls at fits; Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion, This pilot is guiding me, Lured by the love of the genii that move In the depths of the purple sea; Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills, Over the lakes and the plains, Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream, The Spirit he loves remains; And I all the while bask in Heaven’s blue smile, Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes, And his burning plumes outspread, Leaps on the back of my sailing rack, When the morning star shines dead; As on the jag of a mountain crag, Which an earthquake rocks and swings, An eagle alit one moment may sit In the light of its golden wings. And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath, Its ardours of rest and of love, And the crimson pall of eve may fall From the depth of Heaven above, With wings folded I rest, on mine aëry nest, As still as a brooding dove.
That orbèd maiden with white fire laden, Whom mortals call the Moon, Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor, By the midnight breezes strewn; And wherever the beat of her unseen feet, Which only the angels hear, May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof, The stars peep behind her and peer; And I laugh to see them whirl and flee, Like a swarm of golden bees, When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent, Till calm the rivers, lakes, and seas, Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high, Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone, And the Moon’s with a girdle of pearl; The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim, When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl. From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape, Over a torrent sea, Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof, The mountains its columns be. The triumphal arch through which I march With hurricane, fire, and snow, When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair, Is the million-coloured bow; The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove, While the moist Earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water, And the nursling of the Sky; I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores; I change, but I cannot die. For after the rain when with never a stain The pavilion of Heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams Build up the blue dome of air, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again.