All Posts Filed in ‘challenges

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Target of jokes

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When I was little, I was the target of jokes of choice for my classmates, because I couldn’t speak properly Spanish. I had went to school not knowing a single word of the language, because we were immigrants and at home we spoke Croatian.

I was constantly making mistakes and messing words. I remember that even the teacher laughed on me once I made a mistake when I was trying to tell her that I wanted to leave because I was having a migraine and she provoke, with her answer, the laughter of the whole class. I was really desperate so I left and went home.

There was another little girl with problems with the Language. We didn’t know, but she had a neurological illness. She had trouble understanding the meaning of some words. Sometimes, the teacher asked us one by one about the correct use of some prepositions or adverbs and that girl always failed. The others laughed at her. Not me. I found it too cruel. I couldn’t but feel sorry for her.I wanted to help her but I didn’t know how .

Not too long after that, she died from her illness. That day all the jokes and laughs in the classroom became bewilderment and tears.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Target

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Atavism

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Over here we have many gastronomic societies. Some of them are simply that: a group of friends who get together to have a very good cooked meal in a nice environment.

But there are others that are organized to celebrate the wonders of a particular product: So we have The brotherhood of white asparagus, The brotherhood of olive oil, the brotherhood of the red pepper and many more. All of them, or almost all, with their medieval looking banner, its uniforms (hats with feathers and long cloaks) and its ancestral language to make public proclamations. They don’t have reunions or assemblies , they have “Chapters”. When they admit new members, usually among famous people they organize a ceremony imitating the order of ancient knights. And they finish with a nice banquet. Of course.

I’m sure they have a great time tasting their favourite meals doing those things. What I don’t understand is why a bunch of grown men have such a need to disguise themselves and play that way.

I have to say that most of their time, when they are not in Chapter or ordering new members, they spend it working to promote their product in the market, That is true.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Atavism

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Bastion

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My city keeps its ancient walls all around the old quarter, with its bastions, battlements, bulwarks, part of its moat, its beautiful citadel, even a gate with a wooden drawbridge which is still working.

Obviously, they no longer are used as a defence against the enemy, and around the city walls there are parks and green areas. When I was a kid I used to play knights and princesses over there with my brother and my sisters.

A stick as a sword and our imagination in such a scenery made wonders. We made up thousand of stories; each one more fantastic than the previous. We could play for hours and never get bored.

Now I don’t see so many children playing around the city walls the way we used to. Maybe knights and princesses and castles are not “cool” any more, or maybe is hard for kids to imagine adventures of the lost centuries outside a video game. Who knows!

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bastion

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I was in a pickle! (or the story of the Symphony Number 3)

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Many years ago, I worked as an intern in a radio station making interviews and reporting about culture. I had to fill a space of three minutes with news about the music events in the city. One day I had prepared an interview with the conductor of an orchestra who was going to perform that evening the Brahms Symphony Number 3. But he failed me at the last moment. I was in a pickle! I had three minutes empty to fill with whatever.

I decided to search in the archive of the radio station the record of the Symphony and talk a little about it and about the orchestra, but the archive was very messy. Plus I have a kind of dyslexia, so instead of looking for the box with the label Brahms Symphony number 3, I was looking desperately for the label Symphony number 1.

The clock was ticking And I heard from the archive my boss on air saying: “…and in a few seconds our contributor Olga will tell us the lasts news about culture in our city”.

So I prayed with all my strength: dear God let me find the record! …And suddenly I saw it! The box with the label I was looking for: the Symphony Number 1.

I took it and went running to the studio, gave it to the technician and sit down next to my boss, ready to talk at the microphone. When I checked to my notes, I realized in dismay my mistake. But just then, the technician put on the record and the music that sounded was the Symphony number 3 . The one I needed. The record was inside the wrong box! . I had would never found it if I hadn’t made that mistake with the numbers.

I really think my prayers were heard that day.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pickle

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Purple

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I hate being negative, but purple reminds me to the dead, because is the colour of the funerals in the church.

I have too recent my mom’s funeral, with all the priests dressed in purple chasuble, singing songs about the everlasting life, in wich I firmly believe.

It was a very sad day, because is always hard to say good-bye. Above all when there is so much love involved.

Now her home is no longer a home, but a strange empty place. It was also a day of hope, because she went to a better life, stopped suffering and finally rested. And I’m sure she’s now with dad in heaven, wich was her biggest wish.

But we, down here, would like to have her more time, to hear her stories, laugh with her, feel her love for us, her children.

I have spent my last five years taking care of her since she had a stroke. I still getting up in the morning thinking: I have to go to take care of mom… And then the harsh truth strikes my mind like a hammer. I have no longer where to go.

Well, I have found places to go and things to do, but without mom.

My life has changed completely.I miss her badly.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Purple

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Nightmare

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Speaking about nightmares is dangerous. I don’t know if there are out there reading this , dream interpreters who can deduce things about my inner self I don’t want to reveal.

I’ll write though about a recurring nightmare I have had for a long time.

To explain it I have to describe a little one of the main streets of my city. It has two big roundabouts with a big fountain in the middle. When I was a kid, I couldn’t distinguish one from the other and I thought that there was only one fountain, so I couldn’t understand why sometimes there were certain buildings around and sometimes there were other buildings completely different. When I went for the first time for a walk with my parents all the way down that street and we passed by the two fountains, I understood and got somehow oriented.

In my nightmare I’m out doing some errands and arrive to one of the roundabouts. Suddenly I lose balance and fall down. I get completely dizzy, and when I open my eyes, all the buildings and the streets around the fountain are different. I get up and try to go home but the streets keep changing its place, so I get completely lost. I feel like in a labyrinth. Finally, when I think I recognise something near my home I end up in a cul-de-sac where there is only a dirty, black charcoal warehouse, guarded by a threatening dog growling and barking loud.

Then I wake up.

In the picture, one of the fountains of my confusion 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Nightmare

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Insight

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I used to follow the concerts backstage, because I had to work: report about the event and interview the artists. Once there was a concert by a duo of Cello and Contrabass.

The virtuosi musicians were Italians. The cello player was a short and vivacious man, with long curly grey hair and the Contrabass player was a silent tall and thin guy, with short black hair and somehow disturbing yellow eyes as I’ve never seen in my life.

The cello player was trying to give me an insight on how hard was the life of the artists: Many hours of practice, constant travels, no time for the family… Untill he made a dramatic move and took the left hand of his companion and extended also his own hands to show me the cracks and calluses in their fingers caused by the strings of their instruments. Impressive. I hadn’t doubt he was telling the truth, but his last gesture convinced me.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Insight

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Redux

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Once a friend went to the Netherlands and brought a tulip bulb in a beautiful box. It was winter. She put the box on a shelf over a heater in her room because it was so decorative and forgot about it.

One day, I was talking with her – it was already Spring – and I noticed that the box was swollen. I asked her What was it and she suddenly remembered that it was time past to plant the tulip bulb.

We opened the box and saw that the tulip had grown screwed around the bulb, and the flower had opened but absolutely white, without any colour, because it hadn’t seen a ray of sun.

We planted the tulip in the garden and it survived, with a twisted stem and a flower pale orange instead of red.

The following year we did everything right and at the proper time, and the flower bloomed splendorous: tall and red, beautiful.

Ragtag Daily Prompt

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Homely tradition

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Since we don’t have the daily prompt I have turned back for inspiration in the Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Topic Generator at http://topicgenerator.wordpress.com It provides you a random noun combined with a random adjective as a headline for your blog post.
Today it gave me the combination “Homely Tradition”
The first thing it came to my mind was music.

When we were kids my dad used to wake us up in feast days and special occasions with music. He would turned on the record player and surprised us with some joyful classic.

We would jumped up from bed and would run to the living room knowing that something special was waiting for us. A little gift, a funny poem, and that was only the beginning of a wonderful day in wich wouldn’t fail a delicious cake baked by mom.

So, from our childhood we have the music associated to joy and nice family life, because we also sang together a lot. Nowadays in the era of the headphones the music experience has become more individualistic (apart from the concerts and the street musicians). I

miss the times when we listened to the music together. With the social networks one can easily establish relationships with distant and unknown people and have problems to interact with real people in the neighbourhood. That happens to me above all with youngsters. I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting old.

 

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By the sea

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I’m living inland and I ‘m permanently longing for the ocean with its open horizon, its salty smell, its breeze, The sound of its waves…

I belong to a family with several centuries of history of marine tradition. We have lots of ship’s captains among our ancestors. But my father pursued other goals, in the field of literature and journalism, and besides he had to exile from his country In eastern Europe many years ago, persecuted by the communists. So we ended settled in a city far away from the sea in a new country.

Nevertheless, the call for the open horizons is in my blood and I return to the coast whenever I can, to enjoy that unique atmosphere, watch the ships, sail, and swim, and breath the clean air at the shore while the waves wet my feet.

The picture has been taken in Bermeo, Bizkaia (Spain)
Place in the World

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A vulture in my garden

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vulture 2

Last summer I was peacefully reading at home when somebody came hurriedly saying: “Quick! Your camera! there is an enormous bird in the garden pretty aggressive” .

I went out and certainly I saw a big vulture on the grass. He had been fallen from a tree top where he had been perched and once in the confined garden he had no room to take a run to take off and fly. So we had to call to the wild animal rescue service to help us get the vulture out of there.

But Oh wonder! it was a feast day, and the people at the public service didn’t consider our problem an emergency, even as our uninvited guest had blocked the garden door and our parking lot. They told us to wait till next day and if he continued there they would send some people to catch him.

vulture 1

For sure, the next morning the vulture was still in our garden. They sent a woman i a Land Rover with a cage and a blanket. The idea was throw the blanket over the animal to neutralize him and then put him in the cage. But the vulture wouldn’t let her approach and the cage was too small. So the gardener had to help catch the bird and I had to help with the cage. She prohibited me to take pictures of the process.

When the vulture was secure in the cage we went to the mountain to look for a hill with enough space for the vulture to take off and fly and we set him free.

Unlikely

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Bad luck

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garzaSomething that always makes me smile is look at the new-born animals. So I took my camera today hoping to take pictures of some ducklings in the park for the weekly photo challenge.

It was the first mild day in this cold spring. The park was full of young parents with their kids and other people watching the animals, down in the ancient castle’s moats. There are swans, ducks, turkeys, peacocks, geese, cocks, pheasants and many more species. And there are also deer and hinds but there are not fawns yet.

When I was trying to take some pictures of the new ducklings, suddenly a big Grey Heron, came of nowhere and went down like an arrow, trapped a duckling with its beak and went up to a tree with its prey to have its meal. The little kids began to cry and ask to their parents that was going to happen to the duckling. Some began to tell fantastic stories about how the big bird only wanted to play with the little. Others, more realistic began to explain them in simple words how the nature works. So, no smile at the sight of the ducklings so vulnerable with the grey heron perched up, looking down, threatening…
ducklin

Smile

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Mom

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Mom solving crosswords

My mom passed away a few months ago. I miss her badly. Above all these days. Here she is solving crosswords at her desk. She was always busy with something. I like this picture because it conveys the cozy and peaceful environment she created with her presence. She was the soul of the house. Now the room is empty and cold without her. There are many memories, but my soul hurts.

2017 Favorites

Here is a portrait of my mom:

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Spare

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If you have followed my blog you probably would recognised the man in the picture. He is the accordionist who plays every day at the Castle’s square in Pamplona, my city, to collect some spare coins from the passersby and the customers of a busy café. He’s a good street musician. Plays nice melodies. He’s an immigrant, old, and jobless. Barely speaks our language. He told me with broken words and signs that he’s homeless, and he needs 10 euros a day to pay a shelter to sleep . Today was a pretty good day for him. The weather was mild and by noon he had collected already more than 9 euros. But as ever, his gaze was distant, tired and sad. Life is difficult for the street people like him.

Spare

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Jubilant

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I took this picture last year July 6th shortly after noon in Pamplona, Spain. The San Fermin Fiesta had Just began. This young man with the traditional white clothes and the red bandana, comes from the city hall square, jubilant after the proclamation of the beginning of the celebrations that will continue for a week in the city.

Jubilant

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Face

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I don’t know his name. I only know that he is poor and he seems extremely tired. He arrives every morning to the main square of my city, chooses an empty bench and begins to play his old accordion hoping to collect some coins from the people passing by, hurrying to get to their jobs or go shopping. There are many beggars playing the accordion in my city. They are terrible. A pain for the ears. But this one is different. This one is a real musician. He plays beautifully a wide repertoire of melodies. And he remains alone and silent in his bench, in a dignified attitude, while his fingers fly over the keys of the instrument, the look lost somewhere far away, maybe trying to remember the horizons of his lost homeland.

Face

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Admiration

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Here is my mom solving crosswords at her desk. She is 96. She has total paralysis in the left half of her body due to a brain stroke she suffered four years ago and she’s completely dependant, confined in her wheelchair, but his intelligence remains intact. Last Christmas, her present was a kindle. She had been complaining that it was difficult for her to read paper books because with only one hand was almost impossible keep the book open and turn the pages. with the electronic book, she can do it with a single finger. She switched without problems to the digital format and she’s reading mystery novels and other books.
But I admire her because she’s a survivor with a lot of inner strength who never gives up. She survived WWII, a hard Communist Regime, an unjust incarceration, twelve years of forced separation of her husband, exile and now this sickness. And she never have lost her smile. Be optimistic, kind and strong. Never give up. That’s my mom.

Admiration

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Memory

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I hate crowds. I need to see space around me ,and if not, a clear way to go out. This is why I usually don’t go to the Chupinazo that marks the beginning of San Fermin in Pamplona. But I miss it. I would like to be there to in the city hall square every July 6th at noon when they launch the rocket and everybody shouts Viva San Fermin!
Till that moment, everybody, clothed in white, wait holding up the red bandanas they will wear around their necks as soon as the pyrotechnic rocket explodes as a sign that they are taking part of the fiesta. All the square is white and red. Is really something worth to see.
I used to go with my friends when I was young until one year I felt my breath was failing me because of the crowd squeezed me. So I retreated to the street of Mercaderes and went to the Castillo’s square.
But now is an event for very young people. There is too much people and there is no way to enter the square. Besides now the youngsters have fun throwing each other wine and even flour and eggs, so the place is a mess, and the traditional white clothes with red bandanas finish awfully dirty, all pink from the wine and yellow from the eggs. You can always watch the spectacle comfortably from a balcony, if you’re lucky. Or from home thru TV.
I don’t like that. I prefer the memory of my young days when there was fewer people and it was possible to participate. I made a sketch of that previous moment when everybody is holding their bandana up waiting for the chupinazo chanting: San Fermin! San Fermin!