Friday, October 28, 2011

To Hispalis and Back Without the Flu

This afternoon, after lunch at Mesón Olalla next to the Metropol Parasol, Jerry and I finally went underground to pay a visit to the Antiquarium Sevilla, the new museum space created beneath the public market and Metropol Parasol. It was the first time we used our residency cards, which get us in to local attractions free of charge!

Later in the day, those cards also got us FREE flu shots.  Jerry and I were slammed simultaneously in 1990 with debilitating cases of the flu.  I would get hit hard every year, but was always used to having Jerry there to take care of me.  (He's a great nurse.)  We've gotten our shots ever since.

BREATHTAKING MOSAICS.

THE REMNANTS OF ONE OF SEVERAL HOUSES.

But, back to antiquities.  The city had plans to build a large parking garage on the site until exploratory digging (they are very careful to check before anything new is built) led to the discovery less than 10 years ago of ancient ruins dating back to the time (around 150 BC) when Sevilla was known as the Roman city of Hispalis and the Emperor Tiberius was in power.

TOUCH-SCREENS WITH ANIMATION THAT "REBUILDS" ANCIENT HOMES AND STREETS.

ALL BENEATH THE CONTEMPORARY METROPOL PARASOL AND PUBLIC MARKET.

The design is another brilliant juxtaposition of the old and the new in this amazing city.  The antiquarium opened in April and is spectacular, although clearly not completely finished — no brochures; no gift shop; an empty gallery soon to be filled with household goods found at the site; nothing yet in English, German, French, Italian, and other languages for international visitors.

FROM 150 BC. THE LARGEST ROMAN FISH SALTING VATS (SALAZONES) FOUND IN SPAIN.

MOTION-SENSITIVE LIGHTING. GLASS FLOORS TO EXPOSE FOUNDATIONS AND SEWER SYSTEMS.

Included in the museum are breathtaking mosaics beautifully preserved.  The Antiquarium takes us through time from the very ancient Roman ruins to more modern areas dating from the 2nd century AD and on.  The most recent structure found here is a 12th-century house from the time of the Moors.

MORE BEAUTIFUL, AND PAINSTAKINGLY PRESERVED, MOSAIC WORK.

HEADING BACK OUTSIDE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ancient Amid the Modern

One of the many things I love about Sevilla is the blending of the old and the new.  I already shared in July my first impressions of (and visit to) the Metropol Parasol and the Roman ruins that were discovered beneath.  But, I haven't mentioned my first sighting, when we were here in January, of prominent remnants of a more-than-2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct.

RUNNING DOWN THE CENTER OF THE MODERN STREET. THE MOSAIC IS A LATER ADDITION.

Portions of the aqueduct have been preserved and, as needed, reinforced right in the center of a busy street that runs through one of the more contemporary parts of the city near the neighborhood of Nervión.  The remains are on the same street as (and just one block away from) the vacation apartment we rented during the winter.

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS.

The aqueduct is known as "los caños de Carmona" (the pipes of Carmona) and runs along the modern Calle de Luis Montoto, originally a Roman road known as the East street and later as the Calzada (sidewalk) of the Pipes of Carmona.  (Carmona is a town about a half hour east of Sevilla, famous for its Roman ruins.)  The old Roman road connected Sevilla's Carmona Gate with the city of Córdoba about 142 km (88 miles) away.

AT THE NEXT CORNER, ANOTHER SECTION,  WITH CONTEMPORARY REINFORCEMENT.

The aqueduct was built between 68 and 65 BC — when Julius Caesar conquered Spain.  Most of the water channel was buried for it's 17.5 km (11 mile) length.  Amazingly, the aqueduct was still in use in the 19th century until it was mostly demolished in 1912.

OF COURSE, WITH THE ADDITION
OF A VIRGIN IN CHRISTIAN TIMES.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Spanish Betty Crocker


Jerry's sister Linda has taken her share of ridicule over the years for her limited skills in the kitchen.  When her sons were growing up, Linda was known for cooking up a delicious — really delicious — lasagna (which is more than I can do), but that was the extent of her culinary powers.  She couldn't understand why egg whites and egg yolks needed to be separated if they were just going to get mixed up with everything else in the end.  And it made perfect sense to her to just turn up the oven temperature if she needed something to cook more quickly.  Interestingly, since her sons left home, Linda has actually become a very good cook.  It probably just wasn't worth the effort with two growing boys who inhaled four boxes of cereal at a sitting.  In fact, many of the meals Jerry served up in recent years were recipes taken from Linda's kitchen.  But, the joke has lingered.

"BETTY" NOW AND IN 1936.
LINDA WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER MODEL.
Over the years, Linda began to refer to herself as Betty Crocker (cultural icon, as well as brand name of mega food corporation General Mills). Betty Crocker was not a real person.  She was created by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921.  The name "Betty" was selected because it was considered cheery and all-American.  The name Crocker was the last name of the director of the company.

In the 1990s, our cousins Inger and Jan Olaf, and their three kids flew from Bergen, Norway to spend some time with us in San Francisco.  Linda and Tom flew out for a brief visit.  Inger is an exceptionally talented and trained cook and baker, and she was interested in American cooking.  Linda was happy to remind Inger every chance she got that she, Linda, was Betty Crocker. One day Inger said, "But I would love to know what the real Betty Crocker looks like." Linda helpfully framed her own face in her open hands and said, "See?"

Inger has now taken to calling herself the Norwegian Betty Crocker and I think it's time for Jerry to claim Spain as his own.

BREAKFAST
The point of this entire story is that I am well fed, whether in Norway, the United States, or Spain.  This morning, we could not supplement our standard Greek yogurt and fruit with tostadas from El Sanedrín, because it's Sunday in Sevilla and therefore no place in the neighborhood serves breakfast — if they open early enough or at all to even serve a cup of coffee.  So, Jerry said he would "make us some eggs."

BASQUE SCRAMBLED EGGS.
 
After completing the crossword puzzle, I headed into the kitchen to see how Jerry was doing with our eggs.  I should have known after all these years that when Jerry says he'll make us some "eggs," I will not be presented with a simple scramble and a slice of buttered toast.  (Read my post about the "eggs" Jerry threw together in July at my mother's house if you'd like to get up to speed.)  And yet he still surprises me.  Gorgeous and fragrant chorizos were in a pan.  A bowl was filled with a mixture of chopped green and red peppers, onion, and tomatoes.  There was a beautiful slab of country-style bread sitting on a cutting board.  Oh, yes, there was in fact a large bowl of eggs and a sinkful of egg shells. Jerry had cooked us up "Basque Scrambled Eggs" from his newest cookbook purchased just last week, "A Passion for Tapas."

DINNER
Last night, my resident chef used his new cookbook to serve up an amazing dinner.  The main course was Chicken with Raisins and Pine Kernels (red wine vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, lemon rind, raisins, chicken breasts, olive oil — Spanish of course and two different kinds, garlic, pine nuts, parsley). 

CHICKEN WITH RAISINS AND PINE KERNELS

The side dish was Broad Beans with Ham (broad beans, olive oil, red onion, Serrano ham, parsley).

BROAD BEANS WITH HAM.

Just so you know how unlike Betty Crocker I am, I just read the chicken recipe and when I hit the instruction, "turn the salad into a serving dish," I thought it was a magic trick... or a miracle (like turning water into wine, or fish into loaves of bread).

Then again, if I were running the kitchen, turning uncooked food into something cooked and edible would in fact be a miracle.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Olga Chickaboomskya, Prima Ballerina

I have been surprised to see Spanish TV ads (not many) for Halloween and also some stores in Sevilla carrying costumes and decorations.  I don't know if kids actually go around trick-or-treating, but I guess we'd better buy a bag of our favorite candy just in case.  If no one shows up, we'll just finish it all ourselves (we've done it before and, although it's a hardship, we will do it again if we have to).

When we lived in Connecticut, Jerry and I were invited to a costume-required Halloween party.  Poor Jerry loves costume parties.  I say "Poor Jerry," because he's married to someone who does not share his love for costume parties.  I tried — a little — that one time.  I had found a devilish Venetian mask years before and decided to take it off the shelf and build a costume around it.

Jerry is a huge fan (as am I) of the Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a brilliantly talented and hilarious all-male ballet troupe that dresses in drag and performs and parodies the ballet classics.  We have seen them perform several times.  Inspired by Les Trocks, Jerry decided to go to the party as Olga Chickaboomskya, retired Russian prima ballerina.

One day Jerry left his office at Yale University, wearing a very serious gray suit and very serious silk tie, and headed over to the very serious dance supply store.  He said to the three women who worked there, "OK, you have one hour to make me look like a prima ballerina."  I'm sure this was a first in 1980s New Haven.  The women immediately loved him.

APPLYING THE LEE PRESS-ON NAILS.
JERRY STILL DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO SIT LIKE A LADY.

They started with the tights.  They actually had his size — well close.  The leotard was, amazingly, no problem.  And the largest tulle tutu just fit around his waist.  The ballet slippers were a challenge.  Jerry wore a size 13; the slippers only went up to 12.  But he figured he wasn't really going to dance and he wouldn't be on his feet very long, so he would manage.  He finished with a feather boa.

WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO? SHOOT THE SWAN? THIS LOVELY? MY SWAN?

At K-Mart in our little town of Guilford, Jerry found $1 clip-on earrings with giant "rubies." He bought Lee Press-On Nails.  Jerry has the biggest hands I have ever seen.  The fake nails didn't completely cover as intended, so he had this odd little colored piece of plastic centered on each of his own nails.  He found a turban and a huge "diamond" broach he could pin to the front.  A friend loaned him a large Russian-looking cape.  When he returned from K-Mart, he tried on the clip-on earrings and one of the clips immediately broke.  He went right back to K-Mart and explained that the earring broke the very first time he put it on.  (The man has no shame.)  They gave him a replacement pair.

NOT READY TO LEAVE MY COMFORT ZONE.


The fun truly began (well, and ended) when we got ready for the party.  Our friends Cesar and Daisy, who were not going to the party, came over.  Daisy was our designated make-up artist.


YES, I TRULY FELT I WAS FINALLY IN HELL.

We set up a stool in the kitchen and Daisy went to work.

Cesar and I stood off to the side.  Daisy worked for a long time.

"Daisy, put more color on his eyes," we coached.

A few minutes later, "Put more color on his eyes, Daisy."

"I did!"

"Daisy, it's not enough."

"Close your eyes," she ordered as she slapped Jerry on the shoulder.

Jerry did so and we saw vivid, sky blue upper lids.

"Now open them."

He did so and we saw no color at all.

She complained, "His eyes are so damned deep-set, you can't even see the make-up!"

"Spread it outside and above his eye lids," we instructed. "Make it really obvious."

"But that would be tacky," she said... and then burst out laughing at the inanity of that statement.

She slathered on more and more of her expensive make-up — heavy lipstick, a beauty mark, heavy blush.  None of it was really easy to see.  I knew Jerry was a hunk, but I had never appreciated how heavily masculine his features were.  There was nothing pretty about him (well, except that the blue eye shadow really brought out his sky-blue eyes).

SEE HOW THE MAKE-UP BROUGHT OUT HIS BLUE EYES?
THE LORD OF DARKNESS LOOKS LIKE A DEER CAUGHT IN HEADLIGHTS.

But he stood, posed, and the vision was complete.

OLGA DIDN'T YET KNOW SHE WAS DRIVING.

I was so uncomfortable being in costume that I wouldn't even drive the 15 minutes into New Haven.  I made Olga get behind the wheel.  He had to shift gears while being careful not to knock off a Lee Press-On nail.  The party was a bit of a bust.  Jerry eventually removed his ballet slippers; it took 10 minutes for his toes to unbend.  He spent much of the remainder of the evening complaining that he couldn't wait to get out of "these damned panty hose."

I FORGOT TO INCLUDE THIS SHOT IN THE ORIGINAL POST.

I wished we had stayed home with Cesar and Daisy.  Maybe the whole thing would have been more fun had I had a better attitude.  But I don't think so.

I am so glad no one has invited us to a costume party this year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An American Meal in a Spanish Kitchen

Jerry has been cooking dinner a bit more often lately.  So, no longer is every one of our meals in Sevilla enjoyed in a restaurant — although, on another recommendation from Ricardo, owner of our electronics and appliance store Casa de las Planchas (House of the Irons), we did have an excellent tapas lunch yesterday at Mesón Olalla in Plaza de la Encarnación.

One of my favorite meals that Jerry used to cook in California was Cinnamon Apple Pork Tenderloin.  Jerry discovered the recipe when he was about to prepare dinner one night in Irvine and I offered to run to the store to pick up some things.  He gave me the list, which included some cut of pork or another and I returned home with a beautiful pork tenderloin.  That was not what Jerry had in mind but, undaunted, he went online and found this pork tenderloin recipe on About.com.  We loved it so much it became one of Jerry's standards.

The other night, Jerry decided to produce the same meal here.  He couldn't find pork tenderloin and he forgot to buy cinnamon.  So, he improvised.

I feel obligated to comment on improvisational cooking.  It is something I cannot do.  If I were again to prepare Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and someone instructed me...

In your microwaveable dish, add 1-1/3 cups hot water.
Pour the pasta from the box into the hot water
(be sure to remove the packet of cheese sauce first).
Stir the pasta and put the uncovered dish in the microwave oven.
Cook for 7–9 minutes on HIGH.
You must stir the pasta every 1–2 minutes so it doesn't stick together.
It has cooked long enough when there is no longer water in the dish.
Make sure to check it often, and do not overcook.

... that is precisely what I would do (although I would have no idea how to know if it was being overcooked until it was in fact overcooked).



But, back to Jerry, someone who can safely improvise in the kitchen. As a side dish for the excellent pork, apples, and raisins, he included another old standby, sauteed cabbage.  And he added a new dish (for us), spinach with raisins and pine nuts.  ¡Increible!

THE RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries or raisins

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the pork tenderloin in a roasting pan or casserole dish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir. Spoon the apple mixture around the pork tenderloin. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid and spoon the apple mixture over the tenderloin. Return to the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until pork tenderloin is browned and cooked through. A meat thermometer in the center should register at least 150° to 160°.
Serves 4.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Parking, Snacks, and Kisses

KISSING, CHEEK TO CHEEK
Now that we live in Sevilla, we have learned that the appropriate greeting and farewell to friends (and sometimes acquaintances) is a kiss in the direction of a check.  Not just one cheek.  Both.  When Jerry said good-bye to Margarita Saturday afternoon, he gave her Spanish kisses with a bit of a flourish.  Margarita laughed (we seem to have that effect on her) and looked at me and said.  "He's so snobby!"

We realized we had yet another thing to learn, so asked why his kisses defined him as snobby, and she explained that he didn't even touch her.  His face was somewhere to the right and left of hers as he noisily kissed the air.

So, Jerry tried again.  He held Margarita's shoulders and planted a kiss on each cheek.  She laughed again.

"Well," she said, "That was like you were kissing granny! Come on, Jerry, somewhere in the middle!"

She explained that one SHOULD touch cheeks, but one should NOT touch lips to cheeks.  If you don't touch cheeks, you're being a snob.  If you touch lips to cheeks, you're kissing grandma. 

Jerry gave it another try and was told he had perfected his Sevillano cheek-to-cheek air kiss.

PARKING, CHEEK TO CHEEK
We took a walk this afternoon in the beautiful sunshine and continuing heat.  Granted, it is no longer 40C (104F).  But 31C (88F) is still a bit too hot for hours of walking in the city... especially if you're Jerry.  I must make it clear, however, that we are not complaining (much).  This is a lot better than raw winds, incessant rain, or snow. 

TODAY'S TREAT.  HEAVEN FOR ME (HELL FOR JERRY).

We stopped for tapasitas (not a meal, just a snack) at what turned out to be a low-end restaurant.  The food was nothing to write home (or here) about.  Except for the olives.  I love olives.  Jerry does not.

CALLE SOL (SUN STREET) AS IT MEETS PLAZA SAN ROMAN.

After our tapasitas, while on our walk down one of Sevilla's charming streets, Calle Sol, we passed a temporarily parked car.  The picture says it all.

KISSING THE WALL.  SEVILLANO STYLE.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Was Born Glamorous

GLAMOROUS AND ALREADY BORED WITH IT ALL.
Another beautiful Saturday in Sevilla.  And our first Saturday as legal residents. 

We rolled out of bed around 9:30, had our first breakfast of Greek yogurt and fruit and then went downstairs to El Sanedrín for our second breakfast of tostadas and café con leche.  I had my half tostada with ham, olive oil, and tomato.  Jerry had his whole tostada with butter and marmalade.  De siempre.  As always. 

While we sat and enjoyed another perfect, sunny morning in Sevilla, Margarita called.  I told her where we were and she joined us about 10 minutes later.  Jerry and I were already having a pleasant morning.  But, seeing Margarita as she headed across the plaza made the sun shine even brighter.

Margarita has lived in many countries.  She travels as often as she can and is enlightened, interested and interesting, funny, kind, charming, well-mannered, free-thinking, independent, and stylish. I think Jerry and I should start a fan club.

ARRIVING.  ON THE PHONE WITH MOM.
We sat and talked for two hours about politics, language, dialects, slang, culture, religion, prejudice, family, roots, tradition.  We laughed often.  If only the world were filled with Margaritas (and her namesake drinks aren't bad either).

Jerry and I had gone downstairs in the cool of the late morning.  I wore jeans and an old cotton sweater, which became much too warm as the plaza heated up. 

As we sat and talked, I realized that not only was I feeling uncomfortably warm, but I also hadn't showered or shaved.  I suddenly felt like a slob.  I apologized to Margarita for my appearance.  Her response as she looked me up and down?  "You?  You were born glamorous!"

Another reason to love Margarita.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We Sevillanos Love a Parade

Yes! Jerry and I are officially Sevillanos.  We took the bus today (in the unseasonable heat) to the Plaza de España to visit the Office of Foreigners.  Our intention was simply to see if they could give us any information on our residency cards, which we had not yet received and which were a bit overdue.

ACROSS FROM THE CATHEDRAL. SOMEHOW MANAGING TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC.

We arrived at the office around 4:00 in the afternoon. There was no line outside the office.  There was no one in the waiting room.  There was no one handing out numbered tickets. The guards ignored us when we walked in. I told them what we were there for and they told us to just go into the office (of Things 1, 2, and 3) across the hall.  We did so and were met by three different staff people at their desks and only one customer.  The woman at the first desk immediately greeted us and told us to just step right over to the other available staffer.  He also greeted us pleasantly.

SINGING THE BLUES.  BRILLIANTLY.

I told him why we were there and handed him the receipt I had been given on our last visit in late August.  He looked at my name and immediately began rifling through a box of residency cards.  This was too good to be true.  And then it appeared that it was (too good to be true).  As he flipped through each of the cards in my alphabetical section, my heart began to sink.  There were about 30 cards and he had already flipped through all but three.  But then it happened.  He hesitated at the third card from the end.  He checked the card against my receipt and handed me my very own, official-with-my-hideous-photograph, hard plastic, finger-printed, signed, hologram-emblazoned "PERMISTO DE RESIDENCIA."  I wanted to hug the guy.  He then very quickly found Jerry's card, which was the second one in his section.  Jerry and I beamed. I told the man this was a very important day for us. We thanked him profusely and we left.

GETTING ORGANIZED BEFORE PERSONALLY ESCORTING US FROM PLAZA NUEVA.

Once out on the terrace, Jerry and I high-fived.  We then hugged.  And we then kissed — Spanish style (air kisses to the side of each cheek).  We stopped for a mini celebration of chocolate cake and mango smoothies and then walked home.  To our home.  To the address imprinted on our legal Spanish identification cards!

LEAVING PLAZA NUEVA.  LET THE DRUMS ROLL OUT.

THE MOST JOYOUS DRUMMING, EXPRESSING EXACTLY HOW WE FELT.

It seemed all of Sevilla was out to celebrate and serenade us today.  On the Avenida de la Constitución, we stopped and listened to a talented hammered-dulcimer player (at least I think the rickety old — and beautiful sounding — instrument was a hammered dulcimer).  Next up was an incredible guitar-playing blues singer, beer bottle in hand.  After crossing the Plaza Nueva, we came across a large group of marchers in costume.  We thought it was a political rally but soon learned they were performers representing the International Festival of Sevilla Perfopoesía — poets and poet/performance artists from all over the world here for an annual festival.  We just happened to stumble onto the start of the Perfopoética Parade.  Talk about poetic!

A COLORFUL CELEBRATION TO OFFICIALLY WELCOME US HOME.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name

.
EARLY (FOR US) THIS MORNING

It's another holiday in Spain (or, more precisely, it is several holidays in Spain).  Since 1987, the first holiday has been called Fiesta Nacional de España, but it began to be observed in 1935 as Dia de la Hispanidad (Day of the Hispanicity), which didn't become an official national holiday until 1981.

THE REMAINS OF COLUMBUS.
The Dia de la Hispanidad was created to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus's pillaging of (excuse me) landing in the New World, which means it's Columbus Day.

It is also the Day of the Armed Forces, which is, I am told, usually commemorated with a military parade in Madrid.  Other than that, there's not a lot of fanfare or flag-waving because it's all overshadowed by another feast day, the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Day of Our Lady of the Pillar), the patron saint of Spain.

As a matter of fact, two different people told me yesterday that today was a national holiday.  Neither person told me about Fiesta Nacional, Christopher Columbus, or the Armed Forces.  They both told me it was the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

This morning at around 8, after Jerry and I had decided to snuggle comfortably in bed for another couple of hours, we heard chanting and voices outside.  Once we completed our muttering about the noise, we realized what it was and opened the shutters and doors to the wonderful fragrance of incense and to see another paso in the street below as it headed for the Convent of Santa Rosalía.

THE RETURN JOURNEY BEGINS.

Three hours later, the procession was much larger and included a 50-piece band (Jerry counted) for the return march from the Convent of Santa Rosalía to the Brotherhood of Vera Cruz (about 3 blocks away).  I have great video of the procession and the music, but I haven't been able to convert the video to a format that will open on my Mac (without having to download new software).  So, you'll have to trust me that the band was very good.  I wonder if they're available 29 February 2012 for the first quadrennial Procesión de San Geraldo.

ON THEIR WAY HOME.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

El Procesión de San Geraldo

Jerry is a human being filled with inconsistencies.  It is one of the many traits that makes him so especially interesting (i.e., never boring) to me.

He is a perfectionist, precise and careful in all he does.  Except when he's not.

He is masterful with words and language.  Except when he's covering all his ducks or getting all his bases in a row.

And he is extremely outgoing, charming, and social.  Except when he wants to hole up at home for days on end and not have to speak to anyone.

So, given the added challenges he faces currently (and temporarily) with a lack of skills to communicate intelligently in Spanish, it's no surprise that he some days would just prefer to stay home.

AN EXAMPLE
Yesterday, Jerry went to the pharmacy and did well in communicating that he needed to refill some prescriptions.  The pharmacist asked him a question in rapid-fire local dialect.  He thought he understood and, pointing to his head, said he was sorry but he couldn't remember.  "Un momento," he said, as he searched his wallet for the business cards I made up containing all our pertinent information.  He showed the card to the pharmacist and pointed to his phone number. The pharmacist laughed and explained that she had asked for his name (nombre) and not his number (numero).  She also told him that she had been a bit concerned when she thought he didn't remember his name.

So, Jerry has suggested that he might like to become a recluse.  Initially, he said I could "roll him out" once a year just like the locals roll out the statues of Jesus and the multitudes of Virgins.  He suggested that I find at least a dozen very sturdy men to hoist him up, carry him downstairs, and then haul him around town for a couple of hours before hauling him back upstairs.  Of course, he wants to be accompanied by a large band of musicians.  He said I'll just need to go around in advance to put up posters.

When he told Margarita his idea, she thought it was hilarious and suggested the event be called "El Procesión de San Geraldo."  Margarita asked if Jerry had selected a date for his annual procession.  He then decided he did not want to have to be "processed" every single year.  So, he suggested Leap Year.  He thought 29 February would be ideal.  He would then only have to be hauled out and dusted off once every four years.

I just looked it up and Jerry is going to be very disappointed to learn that Leap Year is coming up.  He's going to have to leave the house again in a little over four months.  So, watch for the posters.  The first Quadrennial Procesión de San Geraldo will occur 29 February 2012.

THE FIRST QUADRENNIAL PROCESIÓN DE SAN GERALDO?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Life in a Bottle

CHURCH OF SAN SALVADOR ON THE PLAZA SAN SALVADOR THIS AFTERNOON.

We went out for dinner Thursay night with Margarita.  She led us to a tapas bar in a plaza we had never seen before.  This was surprising considering that in my aimless as well as my purposeful wanderings I have been all around the streets surrounding the plaza and never stumbled upon it.  Originally, Margarita had been aiming for a tapas bar on Plaza San Salvador.  I know that plaza.  The Church of San Salvador is the second largest church in the city (after the cathedral).  It was built on the remains of a 9th century mosque and began to be used as a parish church in the 13th century.

CHURCH OF SAN SALVADOR ... THE SITE OF THURSDAY NIGHT'S BOTELLON.

There is a bar across the plaza that I have noticed is always booming in the evening and late at night, filling the plaza to overflowing with people.  As we turned the corner onto the plaza you could hear the buzz of revelers.  Margarita immediately said, Oh, no. We'll go around the corner to someplace quieter.  No need to try and have dinner in the botellón, she said.  A botellón (a big bottle) is a phenomenon that began in Andalucia in the 1980s as a way for workers to enjoy a cheap drink outdoors without paying the expensive (at the time) bar prices.  It has evolved into a popular activity for young adults.  The crowds looked mostly to be in their early 20s.  So, the mobs I always see in this plaza are not only the overflow from the popular bar.

THE TAPAS RESTAURANT DURING THE DAY.
THE BAR (BEHIND THE TREE) WAS CLOSED.

We headed out of the plaza and around the corner to a smaller plaza.  To Margarita's consternation, it looked like another botellón.  Mobs of people stood everywhere.  The tapas bar she was headed for sat right next to the crowd and had lots of empty tables.  We didn't know if people were waiting to be seated.  Margarita walked up to the host and asked and he laughed and said the tables were all available.  The crowd was simply overflowing the patio from the bar next door.  So, this was not a botellón.  It was just a popular bar.

THE VIEW FROM OUR TABLE THURSDAY NIGHT.

We sat at a table and proceeded to enjoy yet another incredible tapas meal in Sevilla. We passed back through Plaza San Salvador and a now even larger mob.  But, except for a guy peeing against a wall in a side alley, there was no unpleasant or rowdy behavior.  Of course, botellónes continue until the wee hours of the morning.  So, there's no telling what went on once we were snug in our beds.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lady of Spain, I Adore You

This afternoon, I met Lola and Albert for a drink at their favorite little bar near the Church of the Magdalena.  When I arrived (in my shorts, T-shirt, and sandals) at the usually quiet corner, I was surprised to find a throng of stylishly and elegantly dressed people (all seemingly in their 20s) crowding the tall outside tables.  It was a flamboyance of Spanish style.  They had obviously just come from a wedding.



Jerry and I have commented often on the elegantly dressed women in the city.  Just this morning while having breakfast downstairs at El Sanedrín, we noted couples strolling by on their way to weddings.  Most of the women wear incredible headpieces that I had been calling hats (the type of headpiece sported by so many of the women at the recent royal wedding in London).  We see them in specialty shop windows all over town.  I learned from Albert and Lola today that these playful headpieces are not called hats (sombreros), they are tocados.



I have wanted to snap a picture several times, but have not wanted to offend anyone.  Since, we were all now hanging out at the same bar, and since they all seemed so happy and relaxed, I decided to ask.  Albert commented to one of the well-dressed guys — someone he knows — and he got the attention of his friends.  In Spanish, I told the women that I had never seen such style as I now see among the women of Sevilla and I asked if they would mind if I took a picture.  Not only did not they not mind, they stepped into the plaza and positioned themselves so the sun would be over my shoulder, and they posed for me.  Later, another group posed for one of their friends.  I ran over with my camera and they didn't hesitate.  Someone had just turned his car down the tiny street.  He came to a stop, blocking traffic, and pulled out his phone to snap a picture as well.  Everyone simply laughed and smiled for the camera.

I love the people of Sevilla!


REMEMBER MYRON FLOREN?  A TRIBUTE TO THE LADIES OF SPAIN.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Learning to Simply Live

It has been challenging for me to comprehend or even contemplate the fact that we now live in Sevilla.  This is not a vacation.  I do not need to "take in the sights" every day.  I can appreciate the sights, I can be surprised by new things, but I do not need to — nor should I — go on a sight-seeing tour every day of the week.  It's OK to run errands, do laundry, read a book, and just hang around the house every so often.  This may be the toughest thing for me to learn to do.

THE MOON OVER THE CATHEDRAL LAST NIGHT.  SIMPLY LIVING.

TALKING THE TALK
This morning, I met Lola for breakfast and we spoke Spanish.  That is the new Thursday morning ritual.  We have English Conversation Tuesday and Spanish Conversation Thursday.  We are having a ball learning about each other, our cultures, our families, and our languages.  Albert was there today as well and, as always, he adds wonderful energy, insights, and humor.  He was there for his morning coffee when I arrived Tuesday, but quickly departed so Lola would not feel uncomfortable about using English.

But it's different on Thursday.  Everyone is welcome as long as they stick to Spanish.  Margarita happened by and joined us for a cup of coffee.  She began to speak English with me, but was quickly informed of the rules.  No English on Thursday (well, we cheat here and there).  Our plan (mine and Lola's) is to spend an hour together, but we have had such a good time this week that the hour stretches into more.  Tuesday, we spent two hours.  Today, three.

We have already begun to teach each other common idioms as well as silly and inappropriate expressions in our native languages.  These are, of course, very important.


A LITTLE DITTY I SHARED WITH LOLA AND MARGARITA TODAY 

WHAT'S JERRY GOT COOKIN'?
We (Jerry) couldn't get our oven to work (Jerry has been cooking on the range top only).  We both scanned the instruction manual, which is in Spanish, and were convinced the oven needed repair.  However, today while I was off enjoying Spanish Conversation Thursday, Jerry read and translated the entire instruction manual.  On page 62, he discovered that the timer needs to be set for the heat to go on.  Now, how does even someone who reads and understands Spanish know that tidbit without getting to page 62 of the instruction manual? And how many people read entire instruction manuals?

Anyway, we (Jerry) now know how to turn on the oven.  That knowledge really wouldn't serve much purpose in my cooking-incompetent hands. But I can't wait to taste what Jerry produces.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sugar Substitute

METICULOUS CRAFSTMANSHIP IN BOTH TOWERS.
BUT THE ONE ON THE RIGHT IS PARTICULARLY SWEET.


When Jorunn was visiting late last week, we crammed a lot of sight-seeing into two afternoons.  Jerry and I had first toured the Cathedral and the Giralda (bell tower) on a cold January day.  Jorunn and I did the same on a hot September afternoon.  This time as we climbed, there were beautiful breezes blowing through the tower that made it very pleasant. The icy breezes that blew through the tower in January caused Jerry and me to rush right back down without taking in the spectactular views.

ON OUR WAY UP.  THE GUADALQUIVIR RIVER IN THE DISTANCE ON THE RIGHT.
THE NIÑA, THE PINTA, AND THE SANTA MARIA SET SAIL FROM THIS RIVER.

It was especially fun to see the Giralda from street level this time. Wednesday afternoon, when Jorunn and I were out walking in the neighborhood near the apartment, we passed the pastry and ice cream shop "La Campana."  In the window was an intricately reproduced Giralda (about 5 feet/152 cm tall) that appeared to be carved out of marble. I thought, what an odd thing to have in the window of a pastry shop.  On closer inspection, we saw the little sign that said the La Campana Giralda was made completely out of sugar.  So, now I think I like it better than the original.

FROM THE TOP.  THE BULL RING CAN BE SEEN AT CENTER.