Long time ago there was an archaic world without a common space for WordPress bloggers to communicate to each other. It was before the start of the daily prompt and the weekly photo challenge.
Many bloggers lived lost in the jungle of the blogosphere feeling pretty lonely and disoriented. Then arrived the great idea of the daily prompts and the weekly challenges and a community of bloggers was born.
They began to communicate and show their posts and photos to everybody. Many friendships were established online. Young people joined the club. Every day the participants made its contributions to the daily prompts, they would check how were doing their friends and other bloggers writing about the same topic, interchange comments and so on.
Then , one day, without giving them time to react, by decree, giving no reasons, the organizers of all this, decided to bring them back to the archaic time by canceling all the prompts and challenges. Now we all are back again at the jungle of the blogosphere without any help. So, farewell, WordPress “happy editors”! We will find our ways to survive without you.
I’m sorry to say, you disappointed me greatly.
A very mild earthquake shake my city many years ago, and it was all over the news. I was making the news, because I was working in a local newspaper at the time. It was before the Internet was an available tool.
My boss told one of my coworkers, to call to the National Seismological Institute to have the precise data of the epicentre, intensity and everything else.
He placed the call and somebody answered at the other end of the line. He began to ask technical questions to check if we had the right info. The man who answered him, asked for a few moments and then he began to confirm exactly every one of the data we had published.
Asked about the place of the epicentre, He showed an acute knowledge of the area, giving data about small villages and their idiosyncrasy. The journalist was deeply impressed.
When he told the man at the other end of the line that it was very proud to know that all the technical data were exactly as we have already had published in our newspaper, he heard the words:
– This is because I’m reading them in your newspaper.
My colleague became angry
– What lack of professionalism! I’m calling asking for the official data and you are reading the newspaper!
– Then call the National Seismological Institute and not a private home!
We all laughed.
When the journalist placed the call, he had punched the local prefix instead the prefix of de city where the Institute is located. He had made the assumption that the man who answered the call was a worker there, but instead he had called a regular citizen from the neighbourhood, excited to cooperate with the local newspaper.
Folders containing my dad’s old manuscripts from sixty years ago.
This is an ancient public laundry I found in a village I visited the last week. When there was no such thing as a running water in the houses, the women came here to wash the clothes under a roof. I was surprised to see how the villagers were keeping this site, pretty clean and by no means abandoned, despite is no longer in use. I had thought that these structures have had disappeared long time ago. Close to the Laundry there is a well and a trough. The place was nice and fresh. How many stories could tell these stones!
A slight glimpse of Spring…
This week the challenge was any kind of camera or photographers. I just went out to take a walk around and found three different kind of camera at work on the streets near my home. Here they are.
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
When my dad was very sick and he couldn’t move, we knew how to make him laugh heartily and forget about his situation for a while. It was pretty easy because he was a good-humoured man.
But we had a specially very good time when we used to watch with him a Danny Kaye’s video. In it, Kaye plays a performer who imitates a russian baritone, who had been temporarily retired because of problems with allergies, and wants to return to the music hall singing the popular russian song: “Black eyes”. Everything seems normal untill a girl brings to the scene a big bouquet of flowers and he begins to sneeze while he’s singing. It’s hilarious.
Only mentioning the title of the song (“Otchi Chornya”) was enough for a belly laugh. We all knew what was coming after.
So, Thank you, Danny Kaye, wherever you are. (I’m sure there is a very special place in Heaven for the people who make us laugh or convey us beauty, for the people who make us happy.)
Last Sunday I went for a walk to the country. The landscape was magnificent: Green meadows, powerful mountains, leafy forests… But I was caught like a child by the candid beauty of the little wild daisies I found along my path.
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.
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.
My father loved music and every time we were all together, he encouraged us to sing. My sister Elica used to play the piano or the guitar and we could spend hours after dinner merrily singing all kind of songs.
Dad had a nice tenor voice and a some repertoire of love songs he always sang to my mom. And she used to smile and blush. They had been married for decades, but they seemed like a boyfriend and his girlfriend. Some were ancient Croatian songs, Other were Italian songs he learned when he spent some years exiled in Italy after the war, when he was alone estranged from his family.
I have a particular memory of one of these Italian songs: “Non ti Scordar di me” (Don’t you forget about me).
When Dad was were sick in the hospital, one morning they were broadcasting on the tv one of the concerts of the three tenors, and Pavarotti began to sing that song. My dad almost couldn’t move and speak at the time, but when he heard the melody he said: I know this song. And began to sing with his cracked voice to me, “Don’t you forget about me, My life is united to you, …
It was the las song he sang. and almost the last words he said to me. He passed away only a few days after that.
Back to our early years, when we were all young and happy, we’ve enjoyed a lot singing polyphonic songs. Our familiar choir grown when Elica got married and Jim with his beautiful baritone voice joined us with his new repertoire of American songs. There was a Spanish folk song, a simple melody with a silly lyrics but very suitable to sing with multiple voices we enjoyed a lot. “My grandma’s pot” was usually the end of those wonderful Family get together, plenty of music an laughters.
Something 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…
My dad was a journalist, and a writer, and a University teacher.
He had at home a little den full of shelves with all kind of books and with a messy desk.
Well, apparently was messy, because there were two typewriters and stacks of papers here and there, a radio with which he listened foreign stations to get international news, and many more things.
why two typewriters? He had one to write poetry and another one to write everything else: mainly his column for the newspaper and his notes for the lectures at the University.
He had his own organisation in the middle of the apparent mess. He knew exactly where he had every piece of paper he needed. Every note he had prepared.
Once he had to go away for a few days on a trip with his students of Journalism, my mom decided to take advantage of the occasion to paint and carpet the room.
She mobilized the five of us – just kids by then – and we cleaned the desk after making a sketch and numbering the stacks of papers to be able to put them back exactly as we found them. And we did it!
When the painter finished his work, we reinstalled the desk following our sketch and our system of numbers. And after several hours of hard work, and a lot of fun with mom, the room looked as messy as ever, but renewed and freshly painted.
Dad noticed something, but he couldn’t say exactly what until we told him. And he was grateful, and above all happy to find everything in its place.
This week the topic is Letter Y – Needs to start or end with the letter Y or in the caption for the photo “Why” needs to be present.
I have chosen the grey colour
Sky with grey clouds
Many years ago, in the early nineties, my boss sent me to Eastern Germany for a week to visit an engine factory which was producing pieces for a car manufacturer of my community.
The reunification of Germany was very recent. And the big western firms had just landed there occupying the old factories they had lost when the country was divided after the WWII. The firm I was going to visit had just installed the new state-of-the-art chain of production inside the old building and had trained the workers to start the production immediately. Finally, little by little they were repairing the building.
It was really interesting to see How they were doing the transition from the communist way of working to the Western way. Very efficient. The main problem, they explain us, was that the big communist factories that had given jobs for thousands and thousands of workers with obsolete systems, now could improve the production with only the 30% of the workers, so the unemployment was high those years.
Our hosts booked for us rooms at a hotel near Trier, the home town of Karl Marx. It’s an area were there are almost no catholics. But we were going to be there in Sunday and I wanted to go to Mass. A young man who was our driver, promised me he would do everything possible to find me a church.
On Sunday, very early in the morning he came to pick me up, and drove me for half an hour to a place were there was a regular one-story house, very old in appearance, all outside covered by dark grey concrete, that seemed a family house instead of a church.
I had no inkling on what was going to find inside. The door was open, so I went in and the first thing I saw was an enormous organ with a man playing Bach beautifully and a space with the walls covered with child’s drawings, and like ten or twelve pews full of people in front of an altar.
I know no German, but I was deeply moved by the celebration because of the faith and the sense of community I could feel in those people. When we finished I had to wait for my driver . And I could see that the mass goers were looking at me quizzically. A woman left the group and approached me. She could speak a little English, and she asked me if I was going to stay with them, because the community wanted to welcome me. I explained to her that I was a Journalist and I was going to left next day and she seemed disappointed.
She explained me that they were a little community but very active, with a little Sunday school. That they were there for me in whatever I could need. I certainly felt welcomed and part of a community in which I only partook one Sunday, thanks to my kind driver.
This is a statue of the goddess Venus at the Taconera park, close to my home. They call her “Mariblanca” (Mary white) This is how it looks today, in winter.
In a close-up she seems like she has been crying…
This is how she looks in Spring.
My choice are images related with water
When I was a student of Journalism in the University I also was working as a music teacher in an elementary school to pay my studies. It was exhausting, but also very funny. I love kids. And their occurrences made me laugh every day. I had a great time with them.
But, because I had to go every afternoon to give my music classes, I had very little time to study for my exams of journalism. So I took advantage of every moment I had free.
Once, I was waiting for the school bus in the afternoon leaning against a wall, absorbed in my notes of Contemporary History, and I did not realize that a man with bad looks crossed the road, he came Directly to where I was and put his hands on the wall, blocking my way with the intention of assaulting me. For a moment I was in a state of shock, not knowing what to do, smelling the breath laden with alcohol from my attacker.
Then I heard the bus approaching. I reacted by hitting him on the head with my books and escaped to the bus. He tried to follow me but I got into the vehicle before it reached me. I was very lucky that day.
I have many good memories tied to this camera. Wonderful years and great experiences in exciting places. A nice companion for a long time.
It’s been seventeen years since my dad passed away, but sometimes it seems it was yesterday. So vivid and sweet is the memory of his words, his blue glances, his kindness… I’ll say with Ella Fitzgerald, that
they may take him from me,
I’ll miss his fond caress,
but though They take him from me,
I’ll still possess:
the way his smile just beams,
The way he looks at me,
the way he speaks to me,
the way he sings so nicely,
the way he jokes with me,
the memory of all that.
No, no, they can’t take that away from me.
It’ll remain carved in my soul for ever
along with the peace he conveys.
Daddy, stay with me
No, no, they can’t take you away from me.
I love the brilliant colours of the flowers above all in Spring. They lift my spirits. I enjoy taking pictures of them at the park. Here are some of the images.
Back in the 90s I went to Bosnia Herzegovina as a reporter during the Balkans war. I contacted with a local journalist hoping to obtain some good sources and information about what was going on in Mostar, taking advantage of my knowledge of the language. So I left the group of foreign correspondents who were working in the area with a translator, based in Medjugorje, where the Spanish troops had their headquarters.
The local journalist began giving me valuable information, but to my disgust and horror, very soon I could realize that he didn’t want to help me with the info, he only wanted to be alone with me to abuse me. I managed to escape unharmed, but I found myself alone in the unknown and I had to go back to my hotel in Medjugorje.
The road was completely dark and deserted and there was the danger of the possible attacks of the Serbian militias stationed on the mountains around. I was feeling forlorn and scared. I only wanted to hide in a safe place for the night.
I finally arrived to Medjugorje and found my hotel. Some of my colleagues had organized a dancing party. I was not in the mood. The war, the attempt against me, the scary trip to Medjugorje, had been too much for me. Besides I found scandalous organize a feast then and there.
Next morning, very early, I went to the church of the village were they say there are apparitions of the Virgin Mary and miracles. I attended Mass and gave thanks to God to have saved me the day before.
In Spain is tradition that the Three Wise Men, whose feast day is today, are the ones who bring the christmas gifts to the kids. Last night the Three Wise Men riding camels and accompanied with a court of knights riding horses, heralds and pages, came through one of the gates of the city walls that has a drawbridge.
The herald of the Wise Men requested that the sentinels lower the drawbridge to be able to enter the city but they told him that the door was closed because it was already late. Thousands of children, who waited anxiously, shouted: open it! open it!. Let them pass!
The herald repeated the request and said that the Wise Men had a very important mission in the city that night: bring the gifts to the children. Then, the doorman lowered the bridge amid the enthusiasm of the children.
The bells of the churches of old city began to chime and the three Wise Men with their accompaniment of knights and pages made their solemn entrance.
Later there was a cavalcade and despite the rain, thousands of kids and their parents were on the streets to see it.
This morning the kids will have found the gifts next to their shoes and a nice surprise, It was snowing!
(The photo with the Wise Man and the children is from the local newspaper. The photo of the snowfall is mine)
Yesterday it was the birthday of a friend of mine and we wanted to take her to an outing as a treat. She loves window shopping and we were planning to cross the border with France and take a walk in a village known by its nice and fancy shops and its picturesque houses, which is fairly close to our city. But the forecast was awful: rain and strong winds everywhere.
She was obstinate in going to an outing for her birthday, so we took the car and went to her village, some 40 km away of the city, into the mountains. The landscape was beautiful, green and foggy, but it was impossible to take a walk because of the rain and the wind.
So we finished in a tavern not precisely fancy, sipping some hot coffee. It wasn’t what we had planned, but we spend some time together making jokes and having fun. And that’s the best part of all the celebration.
This year I have failed in almost everything I was supposed to do, but I can say that I have been there for my mom till she passed away, taking care of her, being by her side when she needed me, talking with her… loving her. I’m glad I have been able to do it. Now I feel sad when I see her house empty and I miss her smile and her wise and loving words. But life must go on… I’ll never forget this 2017.
Now let’s look forward: Happy New Year
My parents house was a cozy place mainly because they were there filling everything with their affection and their love. But also because the house was plenty of books (my father was a writer and a professor of literature), that gave warmth to the rooms. There were no walls without shelves and books on them except in the kitchen.
My father passed away years ago and my mother a few months ago, and we decided to donate my father’s library and his archive to his University. It will be available to scholars to research about my father’s work.
A few days before Christmas two librarians from the University came to classify, pack, and take away everything. They needed 115 big boxes to pack everything and two big vans to move them to the University’s Library and Archive
Now the house is empty and cold. Very sad. At least, we know all that beloved material is in good hands and will be useful for people interested in what my father had been doing all those years he spent writing and teaching. There are some graduated who could make their papers for their PhD on my father’s work.
All these are the good reasons we did. But for me is hard to look at the empty shelves without feeling my heart torn.
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.
Here is a portrait of my mom:
There was a living legend in my newsroom. A seasoned coworker who had lost his right arm in an accident during her youth, but was able to write fast enough with his left hand. He had a vast culture and he had among others a very popular column about music, his passion.
He was known among us because he had answers for everything . His memory and his encyclopedic knowledge was impressive. Before the times of Wikipedia and google, when we needed some data, we asked him because it was faster than go to check in a book or an encyclopedia. Sometimes my coworkers used to asked him difficult questions just to try him. In my 27 years working besides him I never caught him in a fault.
Only once, he didn’t know the answer to the question a journalist made him. But he sure knew where to find the answer in a few seconds. Even when the Internet was the king of the information, we used to check with him. He was fast, reliable, and human.
Bright, with a peculiar sense of humor. Resorting to him you would take back an answer and a smile or a laugh. Fernando (FPO) never disappointed us. Only when he got ill too soon and passed away. The companion and friend left us, The legend remain
My parents lived one of the most exciting love stories I’ve ever heard of. They got married during the WWII. They had a baby, and almost immediately after that, the war separated them.
My father was a prisoner, later a refugee and finally an exiled. My mom had to hide with the baby and later was persecuted because of her faith in a communist country. They spent twelve years trying to reunite again during which they suffered a lot.
All their attempts were a failures until 1956. But they loved each other so much that when they finally succeeded and met again, they were able to look at each other at the eyes without regrets, and continue their live together just as if they had said farewell the day before. And they continued loving each other like the first day till the end.
Dad, a writer, used to write poems to mom and surprise her with little gifts with no apparently reason. She was always smiling. Their friends and acquaintances say that my parents conveyed serenity and happiness. I think so too.
My dad passed away sixteen years ago. My mom just last August.
I miss them badly
They didn’t have material things to leave us as inheritance.
I would like to inherit their way of loving, so natural, so intense, so faithful.
Big bags are like the cookie monster, they can eat, and eat, and eat things and never get tired of it.
The more room they have more things it seems that we need to take with us wherever we go.
We put things in and almost never take them out
The bigger they are the more weight we have to carry.
They are masters in hiding keys. No matter which kind of key chain you use.They would get conveniently covered under layers of packs of tissues, papers, the phone, maybe a scarf, a foldable umbrella, a toy of the kid or who knows what.
In fact, they are masters in hiding precisely that item you need, and revealing it when you don’t need it at all.
They are responsible for the developing of the art of “fishing” for the needed item thru the tact, without the participation of the sight. Aaaaaaargh!
I used to have big bags when i worked as a reporter to take with me my tape recorder, my notepad, my camera if necessary and all kind of stuff to deal with the unexpected, from an exit to the mountain books or some hobbies for the long waits in the corridors of the court-house.
But now? Enough
Small bags, My wallet, my keys, my phone, my tissues and nothing more.
– How is the weather out there?
– Nor hot neither cold: zero degrees (celsius)
– That’s freezing!
– Yeah, there is ice on the floor, you must be careful if you go out
– Definitely not. I’m staying at home knitting a scarf
– Good idea I think I’m going to light the fire in the fireplace and read a book
– We can listen to some good music meanwhile
– Our home will seem a scene from a hundred years ago
– But we will feel warm and cozy today.
– It’s a pity that we don’t have a fireplace
– And that I don’t have wool for knitting at home.
– Let’s go out to a place I know where they serve hot chocolate with “churros”.
– Just a sec. I’m putting on my coat and my scarf and I’m with you.
We had a nice living room with a wooden floor in a very bad condition. the contrast between the floor and the furniture was too obvious so we recently decided to varnish the floor.
I remember those days with horror. We had to clear the room of furniture: take out the heavy couch that didn’t fit thru the narrow door and what can I say about the piano! The tables were easier, but the furniture of the library were a nightmare. We finished exhausted knowing that two or three days after we would have to do the job again to put the furniture in their place.
Finally the varnishing team came and did their job but they left lots of dust behind them. Fortunately, we had protected very well the piano against the dust. We began to clean the rest of the house and the room and replace the furniture.
Suddenly, our nice couch and our lovely shelving furniture looked rather old and worn against the sparkling new floor. Oh boy! There is no way to find the harmony. Speaking about harmony, our piano leveled somehow the look of the room because when we were transporting it we made an ugly mark on the just varnished floor so it’s not already so perfect
Recently I wrote a post about my adventures as a reporter related with a terrorist shooting in a gorge. I cannot think in another story to tell you and I’m not reiterating, so here is the link. Enjoy if you decide to read it.
I believe people can reach sanctity, but that’s a goal for a whole life. There are no saints on the earth but there are many people more than we imagine, trying to be saints. The main thing is try to do always what one’s conscience tells . And don’t do to others what you don’t want to be done to you. It’s human to fail frequently.
Perfection is something impossible to achieve. Those who think they must be perfect, sooner o later will fall down in the most bitter discouragement at the discovering of their unavoidable failures or become tyrans for themselves and for the others if they don’t recognize them.
Fail, ask for forgiveness to God and to the others who may be implicated, and try again , succeed, give thanks to God and go on, without throw in the towel no matter what , that’s the secret of a sanctity life in normal circumstances.
There is no need to have special revelations like the most famous saints. It’s enough to try to be close to God in everything we do. Those are some of my father’s teachings for me. A big help for my life. Above all to don’t get discouraged in my struggle to try to be better. I realize sanctity is very far away from me but I’m trying to live according to his advice.
I admire many saints. But because I have lived in San Francisco, CA, and I live now in the square of the St Francis of Assisi, I would name this saint as one of my most dearest, because of his love for nature and his life of poverty.
In the picture the statue of Saint Francis with the wolf in my square.
Recently we bought in an antique shop a statuette of the Virgin Mary inspired in the famous painting “The Madonna of the Chair” of Raphael. The statuette was covered by a patina of dirtiness and it had the face almost black. The result of years and years of dust accumulated.
I started to work on it immediately. With a fine brush and water with a special soap, very gently, I began to brush the delicate faces and the rest. It took me days to take all the dirt away. I had to be careful to take away only the dirt and not the original painting. I had to be very patient too. But the result was rewarding because the delicate features of the faces of the Virgin and the Child and the colours of their robes appeared. Finally we applied a transparent varnish to preserve the colours. And the job was done.
I think the outcome it was pretty good You can judge by the picture.
One of my closest friends has paid a visit to the oculist recently, and of course, she needed glasses. Now with her new glasses she has discovered she has lots of wrinkles she had never seen before and we also. Suddenly we all have aged several decades at the same time.
We don’t have a zoo in my city, but we have what we call a mini zoo in what were the moats of the city walls. It’s a pretty big extension, no longer full of water to stop the enemy. Now that there is no enemy to stop, there is grass instead of water, and it forms an enormous green area all around the city.
Around a big park named La Taconera, it has several ponds with all kinds of ducks, goose, and swans. There are also other animals like roosters, peacocks, pheasants, and other birds and a small herd of deer that usually lives in the top of the wall in a higher level than the rest of the animals . Sometimes wild birds stop there for a while to have a rest and look for food in this area. I spotted recently a couple of grey herons, and a hoopoe.
Everything family scale and it’s free. People like to walk and look at the animals. The view is always different, because they move around the moat. The only ones that never move from its place are the goose.
I’ve visited zoos, when I was a kid, but they make me a little sad above all to see the big wild animals in enclosed areas.
Once, I think it was in Barcelona, we entered the zoo and we saw a hippo peeing. We made a tour and when we came back to the hippo enclosure, he was still peeing and had formed a big puddle around him. That impressed me a lot. ¿How many litres can pee a hippo? I looked for an answer and nobody would give me one.
I love big cats, but not in captivity, I prefer to watch a good documentary. But I like documentaries focused in the beauty of the nature and the animals, not gloating on the cruelty of the wild life. We have every day enough cruelty in the news, close to our lives, to search for more blood when we try to relax watching something simply beautiful.