Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm So Tired

I picked up my laptop from the repair shop today. The new fan is purring quietly. I've used the computer for about two hours. It hasn't hung up. It hasn't crashed. And it hasn't spontaneously shut down. I haven't spontaneously shut down myself, but I'm very close to crashing. 

DUDO EXPRESSING KIND OF HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW.

As I mentioned before, I prefer walking to taking cabs (or really any other form of transportation). However, I did take a cab to the shop in Los Remedios again today because it's nearly 4.5 kilometers (about 3 miles) away. To make the trip a bit more interesting (other than just running an errand), I walked home, took in some sights (and photos), and stopped to tour the Museum of Archaeology in Maria Luisa Park. It's a fascinating place and I have loads of photos to share. But not today.

VIEW TOWARD HOME FROM DELICIAS BRIDGE.

I crossed the river via Delicias Bridge (which roughly means "delights" and not "delicious"). It's further south than I've ever walked in the city and the view was — delightful. The bridge leads to a street that leads to Paseo de las Delicias, which runs alongside Maria Luisa Park as well as the aptly named Delicias Gardens. Given that I toured the museum, strolled the park, and browsed a bit along the way, I probably walked over 5 miles on the return trip. I've done that a number of times in the past two weeks. And I didn't get enough sleep last night or the night before. I need a siesta!

WHAT I HOPE TO BE DOING IN A FEW MINUTES.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grecianland, Very Old

San Geraldo has kindly shared his computer while mine is being repaired. I received email today from Goldenmac Service that my computer needed a new fan and not a new mother-censored board. So, they´ve replaced the fan and are spending the next couple of days testing and re-testing to ensure all is well. And the price is unbelievably inexpensive. I suppose I should just say cheap because that´s what it is. (My English brother-in-law has told me my use of the word inexpensive is an example of informal and impolite Americans being formal and polite when it´s unnecessary. Well, at least that´s what he used to say. Maybe the Brits have picked up that habit as well now.)

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY, CHRISTMAS 1973.
YOU SEE? I ALWAYS HAD A HIGH HAIRLINE. (OK. IT´S HIGHER NOW.)

To the great delight of Sergio at Goldenmac, I do in fact regularly back up my computer. So, I´ve got dupes of everything on an external hard drive. I also have selected documents on a flash drive I keep with me at all times. I´ve got a bunch of new photos on my camera. But, moving photos back and forth from my camera or external hard drive using Jerry´s computer is a bit much, so I pulled up another oldie from the archives.

My sister was living in Germany. The parents of my roommate lived in Belgium. And my niece had just been born a month earlier. So, my cousin and I flew to Germany for winter break and then met up with my roommate in Dusseldorf (and then on to Brussels). We did what any dippy American college students would do while in Dusseldorf (when taking a break from beer-drinking). We went antiquing. The only English the proprietor of the shop seemed to know was: "Grecianland. Veddy oldt."

So, I bought myself two beer steins, clearly marked in German "Made in Germany"; and a hand-carved koi fish that I think was Japanese. But I was told they were all very old and made in Greece (well, at least, Grecianland). Here I am holding the carved koi fish, which it turns out was dried out and cracked and ended up splitting in two during one of our moves. I must have been into fish at the time. I´ve got a fish carved out of an olive pit (also Japanese) around my neck. I bought it at the Brooklyn Museum for 25 cents and sadly lost it about a year after this picture was taken.

Come to think of it, I also wish I still had the small sample of petrified dinosaur dung that my parents bought for me. My father attached a bell cap to the top and put it on a chain. It was charming. I used to love to watch people´s faces when they held my pendant between their fingers admiringly and asked me what it was.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Leaving My Troubles Behind, But Not My Wallet

MY SMOOTH BEHIND.
One issue resolved!

I have the document that will temporarily make it possible for me to re-enter Spain after visiting the United States. I had a successful visit today to the Foreigners Office at the Plaza de España.

San Geraldo and I had our typical breakfast this morning. I came home and did the crossword puzzle. I breathed — inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. I remained calm. I did not lose my wallet. (No one hid it in my back pocket. No one ruined the line of my pants.)

A little before 1:00, I left the house and hopped in a cab. The cab driver and I had a great conversation. I told him where I was headed and he asked where I was from. He asked if I had lived in Spain before or if my family was Spanish because he could tell I wasn't native but — drumroll, please — "...your accent is perfect"!!! I laughed. I thanked him. I told him a bit of my history and I then said my Spanish was still not good enough to keep up with many people, especially the people at the Foreigners Office. He said, "That's because they're Sevillanos and you speak proper Spanish!" We continued our conversation on the 5-minute ride over and by the end he had a much better idea of how limited my Spanish actually is. But, my accent is perfect! (Wait a minute. I wonder if he was from Krakow...)

I arrived at the Plaza de España and got in line outside the door at 1:06. I've never stood in line for long when I've been there (unless I've arrived before the office has opened for the day or re-opened after siesta). The short line moved very slowly today. At 1:30, the guard announced that if you needed to talk to someone at the information desk (i.e., if you didn't yet know what the hell you were supposed to do), you needed to go home and come back tomorrow. "No more information," he called out. The line quickly drained. I went from being somewhere around ninth to being second.

NOT A BAD VIEW OF THE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA WHILE I WAITED.
GRAB THAT KID BY THE SEAT OF HIS PANTS BEFORE HE MAKES IT ACROSS THE BORDER!
(DON'T WORRY. IT'S NOT REALLY THE BORDER.)

However, once the line cleared, people began coming from the other direction (from out of nowhere really), asking the guard a question and being directed to walk right in. So, I stepped out of my number 2 spot and told him I was there to pick up my approved re-entry form. He sent me right inside. I wonder if I could have done that in the first place. That's never been "the process" before, but that doesn't prove anything. (We've never been able to figure out "the process.") Once inside, I saw Nice-Guy-From-Last-Week sitting at one of the information-desks-that-was-no-longer-an-information-desk. La Rubia was nowhere in sight! I smiled warmly and said, "Hola." Nice Guy clearly recognized me and did the same.  I told him why I was there. He said, "Of course," pulled open the lower drawer in the desk, pulled out a folder, checked my name on the form I held in my hand, and gave me my signed and stamped, official "return" document. He said I simply need to keep it with my passport when I travel. Unfortunately, since it was after 1:30 and I wasn't allowed to ask for information, I'll have to go back some other time to see if they can track down our residency card renewals. But at least I can now look forward to visiting The Dowager Duchess and The Kid Brother.

LEAVING THE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA BEHIND ONE MORE TIME. (A COOL 33C/91F AT THE FOUNTAIN).
ANOTHER UPLIFTING WALK HOME THROUGH SEVILLA.

THE WONDERS OF TECHNOLOGY
My computer did not crash or spontaneously shutdown once over the weekend (after the initial shutdown Friday night). I even tried to overwhelm it but it kept on humming happily away. Things were going so well that I decided to not take it in for service this morning (which I had planned on doing on my way to the Plaza de España). Just before I left the house, I sent one last email. My computer spontaneously shut down. I think the problem may be that I sent four emails and then waited three minutes to write the fifth. I then spun around in my desk chair twice before nodding my head three times and patting my belly. Oh, and I said hello to Dudo. That's definitely what caused it. Also, I didn't have any fruit with my yogurt. I'll explain all that to the guy at Goldenmac when I head back over tomorrow.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I´ll Cross That Bridge When I Come To It

What if our residency cards paperwork is lost? What if I don't get my travel paperwork in time for my trip? What if my computer needs to be replaced? What if I have a middle seat on my flight to New York? Well, I guess I'll just have to cross those bridges when I come to them.

(FRONT) LAS DELICIAS BRIDGE, A LIFT BRIDGE (1990); AND 5TH-CENTENNIAL BRIDGE (1991).
SOUTHERN-MOST BRIDGES IN SEVILLA. I HAVEN'T NEEDED TO CROSS THEM.

"Don't sweat the small stuff... It's all small stuff" is great advice. And when I'm in a calm and rational state of mind, it makes perfect sense and I agree whole-heartedly. However, when I'm in the midst of sweating the small stuff, I have a few choice words (that I don't express) for anyone who uses those little pearls of wisdom on me. Lately, I've been sweating the small stuff.

FRIDAY. LOOKING BACK AT THE BRIDGE I HAD JUST CROSSED. GLAD I DIDN'T BURN IT.
THE LOS REMEDIOS BRIDGE (1968).

What have I been sweating? Our residency card renewals. And of course my "re-admission to Europe" document for use in lieu of my renewed residency card. And then there's the fact that I'm having serious computer problems. And we don't have a car (because we usually like it that way), which means I'm taxiing all over town because it's too hot to walk to my appointments. And I'm cheap (when it comes to myself). Sometimes. Well, when it comes to taxis! Truth is, I just like to walk. Oh, our year-old iron wasn't working properly and had to be replaced (it was... easily... at no charge, for an even better one). And then, four light bulbs burned out and I had to go buy new ones. And the ceiling lights require me to pull out the 7-foot ladder. I think installing the new bulbs took an entire 6 minutes.

LOOKING SOUTH AFTER PASSING THE SAN TELMO BRIDGE (1931) TO TRIANA.

Monday afternoon, as you may remember, I will head back over to the Foreigners Office at Plaza de España with the expectation that a document will be waiting for me that will enable me to visit The Dowager Duchess and The Kid Brother and then return to Europe less than three months later. I will also ask for a status report on our missing-in-action renewed residency cards. I was in the GoldenMac store near our house for a new battery Friday morning. That didn't completely resolve my problems. San Geraldo has done everything he knows to do to resolve the issues. It looks like I need a new mother board (which I have been referring to as a "mother ___ board"... you can fill in the blank). However, needing a new mother board is much better than needing a new computer.

KNOWN AS ISABEL II OR TRIANA BRIDGE (1852).

The straw that broke the camel's back Friday? It was after siesta, so I was about to go out and catch a cab to Los Remedios to take my laptop into GoldenMac's service center (the store near us is sales only) when I realized I didn't have my wallet. It wasn't in my computer case or the front pocket of my shorts — the two usual places. I checked every room in the house. Shuffled through all the crap on my dresser and desk, and bitched at myself for not cleaning up my mess. I walked into the bathroom and yelled a really bad word (a variation on the one I've been using between "mother" and "board"). And then I calmed down.

AND FURTHER NORTH, ANOTHER BRIDGE TO TRIANA.
FORMALLY KNOWN AS BRIDGE OF THE HOLY CHRIST OF THE EXPIRATION (1991).
ALSO KNOWN AS CACHORRO BRIDGE, I JUST CALL IT THE BRIDGE WITH THE CANOPIES.

I was about to walk back over to the GoldenMac store I had visited earlier, hoping I had left my wallet there. But I had the sudden urge to feel my left butt cheek. And, when I did, I discovered that someone had put my wallet in my back pocket! I never put my wallet in my back pocket. Not since I realized (in my 20s) that doing so ruins the line of one's butt. I finally laughed, stuck my wallet in my computer bag, and I caught that cab. I'm sure San Geraldo breathed a huge sigh of relief when the door closed behind my smooth butt.

PASSARELA DE LA CARTUJA (GATEWAY TO LA CARTUJA).
A MOSTLY PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE TO THE ISLAND.

A great guy at GoldenMac gave me (yes, gave me free of charge) a small part that he hoped would resolve any remaining problems — since of course we could not get the problem to recur in the store. He said if it happened again, I should bring the laptop back in Monday for service. My laptop has only spontaneously shut down twice since then. But it shouldn't spontaneously shut down at all. So, it's back to Service I go before I head back into the Foreigners Office and the clutches of La Rubia (although I hope she has the day off). Ironically, I have been sitting here for 2 hours without one technical glitch.

BARQUETA BRIDGE (1992).
I TOOK A WALK TODAY TO VISIT THIS ONE NORTH OF HOME.

To clear my head Friday evening, I walked home from Los Remedios and decided to take pictures of Sevilla's bridges across the Guadalquivir River, the bridges I've crossed, the ones I've yet to cross, the ones I'll cross again, and the ones I will not burn. San Geraldo and I went out for dinner Friday night and I had one very large gin and tonic. I expect I'll need another one Monday.

PHOTO FROM LAST YEAR (THE BRIDGE STILL LOOKS THE SAME).
ALAMILLO BRIDGE (1992)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Real Good Salad

A few years ago, San Geraldo's youngest sister (he's got two) and her daughter went through Alice's (San Geraldo's mother's) recipe box, lovingly photocopying onto card stock the fronts and backs of every recipe. They then gave a boxed set to Jerry and another boxed set to Linda. Some recipes are wonderful (her banana bread and her sour cream/raisin pie, for example). Some are entertaining, like five-can hot dish. Most, surprisingly, taste real good, as one might say in South Dakota.


Well, today, while looking for a new potato salad recipe, San Geraldo discovered The real good recipe. It's on a double-size card, folded in half. On the outside is Alice's standard recipe card picture with "From the Kitchen of Alice." On the blank line provided for the recipe name, Alice wrote "Real good salad." Jerry had a real good laugh and then opened the card to discover that Alice wasn't the one who gave it that name. The recipe appears to have been cut out of a magazine and taped to the card. The name of the recipe is in fact "REAL GOOD SALAD."


I know for certain My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess will feel just a little bit ill simply by reading this recipe.  But I know the rest of you will not want to wait one day to try it out for yourselves. I mean, it's real good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's Simple!

Last week, we went to the Foreigners Office to get information on our awaited residency card renewals (submitted in June). We were told that we were within the normal time range. Since I plan to visit the Dowager Duchess in the meantime, I asked what I need to do to ensure that I will be allowed back into Spain (without a current card). It went like this:

The guy at the desk was very nice and said I needed a re-entry application. He said I could only get that form from the woman at the other desk. I gasped. It was La Rubia ("The Blond" — the foul bureaucrat we had to deal with last year when we arrived in Sevilla). So, we waited in line for La Rubia, who San Geraldo noticed was being consistently nasty to everyone who approached her desk. I made excuses for her. Then it was our turn. Before I even said why we were there, she saw the copies of the renewal forms (already processed) in my hand and pointed to the information desk telling me to talk to him. She called, "Next." I said, firmly, "I already spoke with him and he told me I need to get a re-entry application from you." She went through files, gave me three forms, and in rapid Andalusian Spanish told me what to do. I told her my Spanish was a bit slow and I asked her to clarify next steps. She flourished everything at me and said, still in her rushed, Andalusian Spanish, "It's simple!" She told me to pay at the bank with one form (I had already understood that) and then go to the police department with everything. "The police?" I asked. "Yes. It's simple!" she muttered. She again looked behind me and called, "Next!"

JUST OUTSIDE THE GATES OF MARIA LUISA PARK AND THE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.
I WAS SO TEMPTED TO STOP FOR A DRINK.

Once we were home, San Geraldo went online and read that I could take the forms to any police station. I went to the bank Tuesday and paid my 10 euros. That was simple. I then went to the nearest police station, a new and beautiful building on La Alameda. The very pleasant cop looked at my paperwork and told me only one station in Sevilla did that; I needed to go to the police in Los Remedios. On a good day, that's at least a 35-minute walk. We're not having good days right now. Yesterday was over 110F. Also, it's August. They're not open in the afternoon and it was already 12:30. It had become a little less simple. But today was supposed to be significantly cooler (only about 98F), so I'd get an early start and all would be fine.

HOW HOT WAS IT?  SEVILLA ERECTS GIANT AWNINGS ALL OVER TOWN TO PROVIDE
SOME SMALL RELIEF FROM THE SUMMER SUN. THIS IS JUST A FEW BLOCKS FROM OUR HOUSE.

This morning after breakfast, I took a cab to Los Remedios. When I entered, a very pleasant woman met me in the hall and I showed her what I had. She said, no problem, take a seat. About 10 minutes later a man came out. He smelled like booze but (or perhaps, therefore) he was also very pleasant. I showed him what I had. He said I needed to go to the office where I started my renewal process in Plaza de España. I told him they said I needed to go to the police and that the police in La Alameda said I needed to go here. He said, no, not for this. I tried every way I could — without flat out saying, "You're drunk! Do you even know what you're talking about?!?" — to confirm that his information was correct. And then I politely left the office. Simple, my ass!

COLOMBIA IS IN AMERICA, TOO
Before I spoke with the boozer, I listened to another staff person (sober and very kind) trying to assist the woman who had arrived just before me. She had brought in a document signed by her husband who was from Colombia. I heard the staff person explain that the document was not the correct one. It was for citizens of the United States of America. She snapped, "Colombia is in America!" He said, "No. Colombia is in South America." "Exactly," she replied. He continued, "The United States of America is in North America. And this form is only for citizens of the United States of America." She said, "It's all America! It's one continent. Like Europe." "Well, no," he said. But she was insistent and continued, "Spain is in Europe. Colombia is in America. Brazil is in America." The poor man simply smiled and asked her to have a seat. When I left, the woman was on the phone with her husband, ranting, "These people don't know basic geography." This all occurred in Spanish and I understood every word. I wanted to tell her how proud I was (and that she needed to get a different form for her husband to sign), but I thought better of it.

BACK TO SIMPLE
I took a cab to the renewal office in Plaza de España. I didn't even have to wait to speak with someone. I was told I needed to go the other end of Plaza de España to the Foreigners Office (remember, this was the Renewal Office). I said, "Do I have to? I really like this office so much better." The man at the desk laughed and said, "I wouldn't want to go there either. I don't even want to work in that office." But, off I went. I waited in line and was hugely relieved to not see La Rubia sitting at one of the two desks. I showed  my paperwork and I was given a number and sent to the office across the hall, where I sat down to wait.

Although we all had numbers, no numbers were called (the machine is in another room), so we self-policed. I waited just a few minutes before being waved over to a desk. I told the man why I was there. He asked a question and I answered it. I apologized that my Spanish was not good. He said in clear and precise Spanish, "Please, compared to what I hear all day, you're Spanish is exceptional." He stamped a bunch of things, looked me up in the database, shuffled papers around, asked me some questions, took copies of things from me, gave them back, took them again, and then asked me when I wanted to return to the office next week. Really? I'm heading back into the lion's den Monday at 1:30. I will supposedly be leaving with the document I need for travel.

HEADING HOME. THE MOAT PROTECTING THE OLD TOBACCO FACTORY.
(NOW THE UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA — THE FACTORY, NOT THE MOAT.)

I bought another bottle of water, walked home, and took pictures along the way. So glad it's only going to be around 98F today, especially since it's currently 104.

The only simple thing about this entire process? The unfortunate woman with the husband from Colombia, America.

AND NOW I'M GOING TO TAKE A LESSON FROM THE CATS.
 EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO FIND SAN GERALDO.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cobbling Together a Meal


San Geraldo couldn't stand the fact that I had temporarily outshone him in the kitchen Saturday with my gourmet, original creation: "Nectarine Cut Up and Served in a Cereal Bowl." So, he just had to get back in the kitchen himself and try and outdo me. Poor guy. The pressure must be awful sometimes. He managed to throw together a peach cobbler. Okay, it was peach cobbler and not fruit-in-a-bowl. And, okay, it was a really good peach cobbler. And I do admit it took a bit more time, skill, and care than did my "Nectarine Cut Up and Served in a Cereal Bowl." One would think that would have been enough to put me back in my proper place toiling over a sink-full of dirty dishes. But One would be wrong. Oh, no, San Geraldo had to go on to make flamenquin for dinner. Show off! Isn't it awful what I have to put up with?

FLAMENQUIN A LA SAN GERALDO.

PEACH COBBLER A LA SAN GERALDO.

But back to fruit — and when I say fruit I mean peaches and nectarines, not San Geraldo — we have fallen in love with a new (to us) melon. It's called Galia Melon (or Melon Galia in Spanish, if you'd like to learn to speak like a native). Galia looks on the outside like a yellowish cantaloupe (which Jerry the South Dakotan, calls musk melon), on the inside more like a honeydew (which Jerry the South Dakotan didn't hear of until he left South Dakota), but tastes like something a little different. I just looked it up and am so proud of my original description. It's a hybrid melon that was developed in Israel around 1970 by a melon breeder named Zvi Karchi, it was named after Karchi's daugher, Galia, and... it's a cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew! Ours was grown right here in Spain. Aromatic, sweet, and delicious. Oh, yeah, San Geraldo did a fine job preparing the melon, too. Game and Match: San Geraldo. I'll get back to washing dishes... gladly.

GALIA MELON. CROSS BETWEEN A CANTALOUPE AND A HONEYDEW.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Who's a Waste of Space?!?

It still amazes me how I can go from a wonderfully happy, gratitude-filled day to one completely in the dumps. And then back again a day later. Thursday, our anniversary, was a very good day. San Geraldo and I had a pleasant breakfast and visited with acquaintances at Emperador Trajano. I went to the gym. I studied Spanish at home. I met friends for a drink. We Skyped with Linda. We received a warm and touching email from The Dowager Duchess telling us she was thinking about how long San Geraldo and I have been together, and how lucky she feels to have two such wonderful "vagabond" sons that enabled her to see parts of the country she otherwise wouldn't have. San Geraldo and I then went out for a quiet and delicious anniversary dinner at Duo Tapas.

AH, TO BE ABLE TO CHILL LIKE DUDO.
(ANOTHER MUTILATED [FAKE] MOUSE AT HIS FEET.)

I went to bed content and ready for a good night's sleep. When I woke up Friday morning, it was from a dream that felt like it went on for hours but probably lasted two minutes. I tend to get bored when people relate their dreams to me. So, I won't bore you with the details of mine. It clearly related to my last employers (who sucked) and it ended with my saying, "I'm just a waste of space." Then I woke up.

No need to analyze; it was all pretty obvious (and maybe it was caused by the Ibuprofen I took before I went to bed).  Whatever the reason, I woke up feeling exactly like said waste of space and the feeling remained for most of the day. San Geraldo lived up to his saintly designation. But, despite his best efforts (and mine), I finally had a full-out panic attack in the afternoon. I took a pill. I went to bed for a while. The evening was subdued and by nightfall I was back to happy. I even cooked a little surprise treat for us both.

I SERVED THIS LITTLE HOME-COOKED SNACK AS A SURPRISE FOR SAN GERALDO.
(HE WAS UNDERSTANDABLY IMPRESSED.)

Saturday morning, all was well in my little world once again. I bought shelf organizers for the pantry and I organized. No wasted space here!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Does It Feel?

San Geraldo had been up for a couple of hours when I got out of bed yesterday morning. He greeted me with a hug and a kiss when we met in the hall.

"Good morning, sunshine," he said with his eyes aglow. "So, how do you feel on your last day of 57?"

I tilted my head down and looked into his eyes reprovingly.

"Gerald," I said (he knows he's in trouble when I say Gerald), "Tomorrow is not my birthday. It's our AN-NI-VER-SA-RY."

It's the third time he's gotten it wrong in the last three weeks. He almost had a panic attack one day when he thought he had already missed my birthday. I'm thankfully unconcerned about his memory. Everything else appears to be working just fine (and he's done this for years). Besides, maybe it's not so bad that he thinks today is all about me.

1955 — BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, AND SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA

So, today is our anniversary (my birthday was exactly two months ago and it was very nice). San Geraldo (the Addle-Pated) and I have been together for 31 — unbelievably full, rich, challenging, joy-filled, love-filled, emotional, high, low, rarely inactive, rarely boring, often comical — years. It doesn't feel like 31 years. I don't know what it feels like exactly — a bit like only yesterday and a bit like forever — but I never imagined when we met that this is where I would be 31 years later. Really, I never imagined being anywhere 31 years later. So I certainly never imagined being gray and progressively balder. I know San Geraldo never imagined being quite so... robusto. But, I also never imagined I could be so much in love with anyone. So here's wishing San Geraldo, the love of my life — my muse, my shoulder to lean on, my someone-who-needs-me-too-much and vice versa, and my comic relief — a very happy anniversary! I've shared below photos of us in just a few of the places we've lived and visited over the last 31 years. It's anyone's guess what's next. But, I do know that wherever San Geraldo is, well, that's home!

1982 — ON THE ROAD IN SOUTH DAKOTA
(WHILE LIVING IN BOSTON)

1983 — GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
(WHILE LIVING IN MARINA DEL REY, CALIFORNIA)

1985 — BICYCLING TO MOUNT VERNON, VIRGINIA
(WHILE LIVING IN WASHINGTON, DC)

1990 — HOME IN GUILFORD, CONNECTICUT

1998 — BERGEN, NORWAY
(WHILE LIVING IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA)

1999 — HOME IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

2002 — HOME IN PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

2004 — HOME IN SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA

2012 — HOME IN SEVILLA, SPAIN

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Did The Virgin Assume?

OK. I do know that today, according to the Catholic Church is the "Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven." I apologize for being irreverent. But, it sounded odd to me when a neighbor mentioned that today was "The Virgin's Assumption." I immediately thought — but fortunately didn't say it out loud — 'What did she assume? It must have been something important for there to be a holiday.' 

Yes, it's a holiday. Frutas Faustino is closed, as is just about everything else in the neighborhood. But the churches are open. And around the corner, the Church of Santa Rosalía has been open since early morning so the public can view the Virgin. There was a line out onto the street when we got up this morning. Lots of noise and lots of people on our plaza when we went for breakfast.

We saw José at breakfast. His relief sculpture will not be displayed to the public until September. I think it was a combination of not wanting to diminish "Assumption Day" and also to ensure that more people have the opportunity to see it before it's hidden away in the Cloisters. Most of the population of Sevilla is at the beach for the rest of the month. José, in the meantime, is already at work on another sculpture for the monastery — this one of the Virgin. To go to work, José knocks on a private door in the wall of the monastery. A nun opens the door and formally ushers him into his "studio," a secret room within the cloisters. The nun locks José in this room where he works quietly amid the antiquities. He sees no one but the nun who takes him in and out of the building.

SOMEWHERE BEHIND THESE WALLS, JOSÉ CREATES HIS ART.

It was an unusual experience for me when I entered the Church of Santa Rosalía. A small crowd was gathered around a bed festooned with flowers. On the bed was the statue of the Virgin of Rosalía. Many visitors approached the bed, knelt and kissed the hand of the Virgin, immediately after which a woman cleaned the hand with an anti-bacterial wipe. Except for the wipes, it felt like being at a wake, which I guess is what it's supposed to feel like.

VISITORS KISSED THE HAND OF THE VIRGIN.
A STAFF PERSON THEN WIPED THE HAND WITH AN ANTI-BACTERIAL CLOTH.

I snapped a few pictures and then continued up the street to the Plaza of San Lorenzo to see if there was anything going on there at either the church of the same name or the chapel of Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus of the Great Power). Worshippers were seated in both places. At "Gran Poder," visitors could walk through the back hall behind the statue of Jesus and kiss the base. A staff person stood by with wipes.

PLAZA DE SAN LORENZO.
(STATUE OF SCULPTOR JUAN DE MESA IN LEFT FOREGROUND.)

JESÚS DEL GRAN PODER (CENTER). LOVE THAT HEAVENLY LIGHT.
A SOMEWHAT CONTEMPORARY LOOK TO THE DOME AND PAINTINGS.

Clearly, the Virgin of Santa Rosalía is the big deal today. That's what José had indicated, as well. I headed back home but not without noticing a kitschy window display in the little grocery along the way.

I DON'T THINK THIS IS WHAT THE VIRGIN ASSUMED.
(NOTICE MY SELF-PORTRAIT... BEHIND JESUS, THE CHERUB, AND THE MULTIPLE BUDDHAS.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Skyscrapers and Monkeyfish

MORE LATER ON THIS DELICACY.

TALL BUILDINGS
Sevilla's first skyscraper is under construction and should be completed the first half of 2013. It's going to be a whopping 40 stories tall (180.5m or 592 ft). Not exceptional if you compare to other modern cities around the world. (The Empire State Building is nearly twice that height at 360m. The Shard in London is 309.6m.) But, in a city where you can see most of the rooflines just by climbing to the top of a 4-story building, it's impressive. Currently, the Giralda (the Cathedral's bell tower) is the tallest building in the city at a height of 104.5m (343 ft). I haven't heard any public outcry now that it's being surpassed.

THE SKYSCRAPER. VIEW WEST-SOUTHWEST FROM OUR ROOF.

ANOTHER TOWER. VIEW NORTH FROM OUR ROOF. CHURCH OF SAN LORENZO.
(BUILT IN THE 14TH CENTURY, MODERNIZED IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES)

At this point the new tower is called the Torre Cajasol (Cajasol Tower) and is intended to be the bank's headquarters with much of the space left for other businesses. The architect is Cesar Pelli of Argentina. The tower gradually narrows from bottom to top. Flanking the tower itself will be two 3- and 4-story curving office/retail buildings. Initially, I thought those ramp-like structures were the carpark. (The carpark will be underground, beneath the tower). I've read that the plaza between the two smaller structures is supposed to imitate the look of a typical street of Sevilla. I'd like to see that. I do love the contrast of the modern with the antique, as long as it's done with respect to the antique.

WALKING ALONG AND LOOKING NORTH. CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART.
(THE 14TH-CENTURY MONASTERY AND 19TH CENTURY CERAMICS FACTORY.)

SAME STREET, LOOKING SOUTH.
YOU CAN SEE THE TWO CURVING (RAMP-LIKE) BUILDINGS FLANKING THE TOWER.

There will be a rooftop restaurant with outdoor dining, and year-round gardens open to the public. The construction is going on at the edge of the Triana neighborhood on the Island of Cartuja, home to the '92 International Exposition: a collection of contemporary buildings now used for the government of Andalucía, botanic gardens, the Center for Contemporary Art, a research and science complex, and numerous other things. From the tower you'll be able to see all of Sevilla, including the Giralda. The building's color and shape is supposed to complement and reflect the Giralda.

NEARBY TORRE SCHINDLER (VIEWED FROM MY "DIVING" BRIDGE).
(THE 18-STORY, 65m, VIEWING TOWER WAS BUILT FOR THE 1992 EXPOSITION.)

I wonder if I'll be able to get San Geraldo up on that roof. Whenever he's gone beyond the 20th floor of any building, he says he can feel the building sway. I may be dining alone.


MONKEYFISH
We went downstairs to Dos De Mayo for lunch today and had our standby order of Ensalada de Gambas Tropical and Taquitos Fritos de Rape (pronounced RAH-pay). The restaurant manager, Paco, loves to practice his English with us. Our agreement is: I speak Spanish and he speaks English. The process at Dos de Mayo is that you place your order at the bar and your name (or order) is called out when it's ready for you to pick it up. We sat outside and Paco called out our dishes in English. "Shrimp Salad Tropical," although not said in the correct order, was no problem. Rape is what you might know better as monkfish. Paco called out, "Neighbor. Please to pick up your Monkey Fish."

TROPICAL SHRIMP SALAD (WITH CRAB AND PINEAPPLE).

TAQUITOS FRITOS DE RAPE. PACO'S MONKEYFISH.
I THINK THAT'S AIOLI,  MAYONAISE, AND MINT... BUT I WON'T SWEAR TO IT.
(HOWEVER, IT DIDN'T TASTE LIKE UNCOOKED LIME JELLO AND SHAVING CREAM.)