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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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Cruel Stay

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I can’t remember when it began. I was probably a small child, unaware of my surroundings further than my playing room and my parents, when he arrived in town. I only know that from when I can remember, he had lived in the next house and no one had been safe from his madness. They say that at the beginning it was harmless. Just an odd guy, too quiet, who spent all the time alone and made a lot of effort to avoid human contact with his neighbours. He bought a carbine and went to the mountain, built a cabin and began to spend a lot of time there alone he with his carbine and the animals. We were afraid of him, because he was becoming more and more surly and moody. His mind didn’t work normally. His brother had tried to commit him to a psychiatric hospital without success. They told him he was not sick enough to be admitted permanently. But people in the village were scared. The convenience store owner was worried because the man had burst in ire more than once when some article he was searching was not available.
That terrible day he came down from the mountain and decided to go to his house. It was his only possession, and he was proud of it. But he found out that a large group of vandals had settled in the building. They had broken some windows, ruined the furniture torn out family pictures, and painted graffiti on the walls. The group was violent and insolent and when the owner tried to tell them to leave, they began to shout and laugh at him. He said nothing and left quietly. He went directly to his van, took his carbine and shot the first person that crossed his path. That day our village was the scene of a random murder. An innocent woman died because some vandals triggered the full madness of a very sick and dangerous man. Later during the trial the doctors said he was too sick to know what was he doing when he shot his victim. But the fact was that a woman was murdered at the end of a tragic, cruel chain of events.

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Thankful Love

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Ana opened the old notebook she found among her husband’s things. It was the older one of the eighteen notebooks handwritten he had kept carefully during all those years. Tight lines of his neat handwriting in faded blue ink were waiting for the rightful reader. He made it very clear that no one should read them before his death. Now was the time. After 56 years of marriage, she was mourning. He had left us quietly and peacefully. Like he had lived.
It was a diary, Ana knew it. It was about the hard years when he had to live an adventurous life as a prisoner, refugee and exiled, wandering across several countries, separated from his family. Everybody thought that in those diaries he, who was a good writer, had told the story of his adventures during the WWII and what happened after. We knew he had been sentenced to death, and a fellow journalist who was also a guerrilla member saved his life at the last second. We knew that he had escaped from the Italian fascists, who took him prisoner when he was very young, jumping from a ship to the sea, and swimming back to the nearest shore. We thought we would have lots of details of all those adventures in his writings.
But when Ana began to read, she realised that the adventures were all there but in a second plane.
The main topic of the diaries were tell to Ana how much he loved her every day they had had to live separated. Day by day during twelve years. He never failed to his daily date. Each day wrote about the love of his life. His only one.
No more tears.
“Thanks, Luka, You’re gone, but you’re keeping me company with your beautiful love words.”

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Thoughtful Street

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One of our main avenues, close to my home, has become the showroom of some of the best known sculptures by Henry Moore. The abstracts and semi-abstracts bronze shapes stood in contrast with the stone sculptures that there are in the same street depicting old kings of the ancient kingdom of Navarre. And,during the Christmas Season, they even shared their space with the festive illumination, depicting stars and snowflakes. Lots of contrasts to think about and enjoy, because the mix was a good one. This is how it looked “Oval with Points” by Henry Moore with the Christmas lights on our streets.

Henry Moore

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Grieving Night

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Dad with his pupils at the university

Dad with his pupils at the university

I didn’t want to get out of that room. I wanted to stay by him till the end. I loved him so much! Every second was precious for me. But all the others decided that I was the suitable person to accompany my mother home to have some rest. I kissed him in the forehead, fearing it would be my last and said: wait for me, dad. He had no strength to talk nor open his blue eyes, but he managed to smile. I left the hospital heartbroken. So many remembrances kept in that faint smile, so acute pain in the soul thinking in the approaching farewell. Mom and I went home and she managed to sleep because she was exhausted. At two am I the phone awakened me.

– Come immediately, he is dying.
I got up in a rush and called mom to tell her the we had to go to the hospital. She began to dress up and comb her hair and apply her lipstick, because she wanted to be pretty for my father even in the last instant. I began to get nervous, because we didn’t have time to lose.
– Mom, hurry up, please.
Finally we went out. I drove to the hospital. My mom got out from the car at the door, to arrive as soon as possible, and I continued to find a parking lot. I ran back to the hospital hoping to find my dad alive and having the opportunity to tell him goodby.
He, who almost was executed during WWII, and once thought his body would disappear, and his love, my mom, would never know how much he loved her, was dying at old age, in her bed, surrounded by his wife and children and accompanied by a priest, friend of the family. Far away from his homeland, that’s true, but embraced by love.
When I arrived to the room, he was looking with his blue eyes to my mom, their hands clasped. He had trouble breathing and had an oxygen mask. But it was useless, so the doctor removed it. I asked the priest to pray something, but he was too moved to utter a word.
– Netter pray you something in Croatian, he told me.
I began to repeat the Lord’s prayer and the Hail Mary, my dad’s favourites.
Little by little dad faded looking at mom, his only love of 56 years. When he stopped breathing I stopped praying, the tears overwhelming my voice.  The sadness was tremendous. But my soul was invaded by an overwhelming peace. I kissed again his forehead and told him: thank you dad.

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Prickly Bus

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I’m sort of handicapped. Because of a balance problem, I need to use a walker to go to the street. When I have to take the bus, it becomes a problem, because there is no place for me. All the seats are taken and I have to go to the places reserved for the baby strollers and the wheelchairs, and use my walker to sit down, but people look at me badly, as if I were committing an infraction. The worst are the women with baby strollers. They don’t have enough space. Only can fit four per bus. In the young neighbourhoods that’s a serious problem. So if I come to share the reserved space and they find all the sites occupied because of me, they are not happy at all. Besides, my walker is unsteady because its brakes are not very powerful, and I have to make a lot of strength with my arms grabbing the bars to keep it in place if the bus is crowded and I can’t reach the right place with security belts ready for people like me. Sometimes,  the driver is too abrupt in his of her manoeuvres And I have serious problems to don’t fall. So I prefer let pass the bus and go walking with my stroller little by little to my destination, even when is raining, despite I usually finish my outings completely soaked. My only chances total a bus with a reasonable comfort are late at night when there are only a few passengers and no problem to take a seat and fold my walker beside me in the empty aisle.

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Long Street

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It might not be the longest street in my city, but its name is “major street”.  and it connects the City Hall with the main roads to other cities.

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Taking a walk through this street you can visit one of the oldest churches in town. The gothic church of St. Cernin.

main door of the church of St. Cernin

main door of the church of St. Cernin

There is also a baroque palace with is now a Language School.

The Ezpeleta Palace

The Ezpeleta Palace

There are many little shops, some very ancient. There is an old drugstore where they sell all kind of cleaning products. Its owners have lots of canaries. When you enter the shop you feel transported to another era.

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Only at the sight of the old worn wooden shelves and drawers and the XIX century cash register, you can feel nothing essential have changed in this local in the way they work, but they have all you can possibly need. From the newest brands to the old formulas. Besides, the shop is always enlivened by the melodious sound of the canaries, singing from the patio.

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Traditionally, when the Christmas season approaches, the shop adds to their merchandise all kind of figurines for the traditional manger that the families put in their homes in Spain. These days their storefront shows little statuettes of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Baby Jesus, the Three Wise Men, shepherds, angels, sheep and lambs, trees, mangers, caves, even there are miniature wells, mills and streams with running water.

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Kids and parents use to have a great time mounting the manger scene in their houses every year for Christmas.

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Repulsive Building

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The police made a raid against a net of heroine trafficking in a marginal neighbourhood. I had to go to cover the information for my newspaper. The main operation took place in a building near the train station. Petty drug dealers lived there in filthy apartments, where they had made holes on the walls to escape from one to another for when the police arrive with a search warrant. When the police arrived they escaped through the holes and threw their small bags with the heroin through the windows to the courtyard. They were getting rid of the incriminating evidences. And with success. Because the courtyard was an enormous dump And it was almost impossible to find a thing over there.

The outlaws inhabitants of the building hadn’t used the pickup trash services and simply had thrown their waste through the window to the courtyard year after year, creating a major sanitary problem. When I approached the building to follow the police operation, I noticed that the mountain of trash had completely blocked the windows of the first floor and half the second floor. There was a sort of garage down there, completely darkened because of the trash against the windows. On the floor a dark liquid infested by rats. The stench was insufferable.
Next to that disaster there was a twin building with impoverished families living there. An old woman was sweeping carefully the main door trying to keep her home clean in contrast with the terrible filthiness of their neighbours.

After that incident, the city council decided to demolish the houses, sanitize the area and build new ones for the poor families. Now the area remains clean.

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Mysterious steps

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When I was fourteen I went to a camp, and one of my duties was going to pick up the mail to a farm located one mile and a half away. The shortest way to get there was an abandoned train track. The iron rails had disappeared and only the wooden beams, loosened, remained among the stones. So, I used to go every day along that path, alone or accompanied by another camper.

I used to step on the wood and avoid the stones. The path was pleasant, shady and fresh, with lots of trees forming like a green tunnel. The sun filtered through the leaves and the light was golden and beautiful. I could hear the birds singing, and spot squirrels. There were also big animals, like a mule and a cow wandering somewhere in the middle of my way. I was afraid of the mule, because he used to climb to the train tracks, block my way, and bray defiantly, so I had to make a detour to avoid him. The cow was always munching grass and was no problem for me.

One day, in a nearby village, the police tried to capture a suspect of murder, but he escaped wounded and they thought he was hiding in the woods. The police surrounded our camp at night and all the farms and abandoned houses in the area with no success.

Next day I went out as always to pick up the mail all alone into the woods. Only when I was into the green tunnel I realised there was a fugitive on the run around. Suddenly, I began to hear steps behind me. Whenever I stepped forward, I heard a sound behind me. I turned to see if someone was following me but I saw no one. When I stopped, the sound ceased too. I began to get really scared. In my imagination I began to think that the fugitive was behind me and hiding every time I was looking back. But I had no escape, no other option but to go on towards the farm, the nearest safe place. So I began to run. The sounds behind me reappeared, keeping the rhythm of my hurried steps. I stopped again and looked back. No one. But I saw something, and I began to laugh.

A wooden beam I just had stepped in, just had fallen into its place with a thud and a cloud of dust. Those were the mysterious steps I had been hearing all the way. The “echo” of my own steps in the loose transoms.

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Impossible Iron

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Some weeks ago, there was a medieval fair  in my neighbourhood and a group of men came to show us how do they worked at the old forging. They brought  a furnace to melt the iron, an anvil and a huge collection of hammers and tongs and mesh gloves , leather aprons, and many other instruments. They worked hard to turn the formless iron bars in hoes and other farm tools. When the iron was hot, four or five of them began to  hammer with lot of strength. The rhythmic metallic sound filled all the square. The sound dominated over a very strange group that was making what they said it was medieval music all clothed in black, with their faces painted.

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Outstanding Recording

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Once, my boss asked me to do an interview to a young doctor about his doctoral thesis. A complicated investigation, very specialised. The truth was that it was a compromise, because the doctor was the nephew of a very influential man with interests in the newspaper.

When I arrived to the lab, the young scientist recognised he was utterly surprised that a newspaper would show interest in his work. His investigation was rather specific and not easy to explain. I spent almost two hours listening to him talking about technical terms I hardly could understand, puzzled. Luckily, I had my recorder with me, and I taped the whole conversation to be able to write the interview accurately. I tried with my questions to get a plain explanation of the study, but it was in vain.

I was wondering what to do with the interview, because I really couldn’t see how to extract something of general interest of all that stuff. But I had to write something. I decided to write down our conversation and turned on the tape recorder, ready to spend hours transcribing a bunch of scientific jargon answers and try to make them understandable to my readers. When I hit the play button to reproduce the tape, I found in horror that all the interview was there, but backwards. It was something never happened to me before or after. I could hear our voices, but it was impossible to understand a word. It was like a dark spell.
I couldn’t trust my notes, and the doctor was not willing to repeat the interview, so it never was published no matter what the influential uncle would say.

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Scary Final

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My sister is a nurse and she has been in charge of the client care in her hospital, so she had to solve all the patients’ complaints against the doctors, nurses, the meal services and so on. She had a small office in the entrance hall with a wooden door, always open, inviting the people to go inside to tell their stories. Inside, there was just the space for a desk and two chairs for the visitors.

Once, she was working normally, when a bad-looking man, very angry , entered and closed the door behind him violently. He was complaining because a doctor had said he would not going to make him a procedure scheduled . My sister began to ask questions and realised that the doctor couldn’t make the procedure because the patient did not come fasting. He had eaten profusely before arrive to the hospital despite the instructions he had from the doctors. The man was yelling and saying that the doctors didn’t want to take care of him because he was poor and that he would not leave the hospital without the procedure done, no matter what. My sister thought that the security guard who was in the hall would come because of the loud and violent reaction of that big man. But nothing of the like. She was alone before the danger. When my sister tried to explain him why was impossible to do the procedure that morning, that was a technical reason and not a discrimination issue, the man turned more and more angry.

Suddenly, he stood up, latched the door, brandished a knife and began to yell: “I’ll kill you”. My sister’s only defence was her desk between them. But he began to go around the table towards her, and she started running circling the table, several times followed by the armed man, until she saw the opportunity to stop, unlatch the door open it and go out. She felt in the arms of a police officer who had arrived alerted by the security guard.

Three police officers reduced and arrested the assailant. Apparently he was an “old acquaintance” for them. They were looking for him and considered him as dangerous. They asked my sister to go with them to explain what happened. She had no choice.

But when she got into the officer’s car, she saw in dismay that the detainee was inside. Handcuffed, of course, and guarded by a policeman, but still defiant. During the trip to the police station, he said to my sister that he was the head of a clan and they would not leave things that way: “You should watch your back since now on.”

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Lazy Photo

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A friend of mine invited me to visit her village in a beautiful valley north from my city. I went with my camera and my walker and found it very difficult strolling through the cobbled streets. My walker advanced rattling and my balance was unstable. The group of friends decided to visit the village’s ancient church. There was a flight of steps pretty steep. A real barrier for me. So I decided I had had enough of struggling with my walker, and I was going to wait down alone. I was feeling lazy, down there doing nothing. I noticed someone was watching me attentively. It was really handsome, so I took a picture of him. I did it carefully and quietly because i didn’t want to scare him. Here he is.

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Later, my friends went to the cemetery. Again, the access was impossible for me. I waited wandering at the main square, where there is a fronton to play basque ball or jai alai. There was nobody around. From one of the sides of the fronton there was a view of the nearby mount I liked. The day was cloudy and the light wasn’t good. But I took a photo anyway.

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Careful

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Sleepy Bridge

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My city still has a drawbridge at one of its gates in its ancient walls. It’s the so-called France’s Gate. And it works. Of course, we don’t need today sentinels on the battlements, watchwords to enter the city, and keep the gates closed at night. So the drawbridge remains asleep, with its wooden platform down, all the time, and the gates, open.

Once a year, on the eve of Epiphany, the old drawbridge gears begin to creak and move to lift the platform completely and block entry while hundreds of excited children and their parents await the arrival of the Magi’s colourful cavalcade.

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Heralds in medieval clothes with trumpets announce that the Magi are near and they ask for permission to enter the city because they are bringing gifts for the children. The city Mayor, or his representative says at first that is too late to open the door. The children begin to shout: No! Lower the drawbridge! Open the door!. The main herald insists once more to get the same answer. Only at the third time, the mayor say yes and the city workers begin to lower the wooden platform, to the delight of the children who begin to cheer and clap. Then, three men wearing fantastic robes, riding beautiful horses, arrive waving and smiling and begins a cavalcade and a feast that continues all the evening.

Note: The tradition in Spain is that the Magi are the ones who bring the gifts to the children

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Out of Your Reach

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Uptight Sympathy

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Sometimes we, reporters, have to do very unpleasant things. Once i had to interview a very sick man in the hospital. He had a throat cancer. He had been accused of a wrongdoing in a corruption scandal in my city but, the more I investigated the case, the more I become convinced that he was clearly a scapegoat. I had to get his version of the facts to clear his name. His family was uncooperative. They saw me as a vulture flapping around a dying man. But he was willing to tell his story, and he accepted my request. So I went to the hospital to talk with him. We needed the help of his wife to understand each other, because he had a tracheotomy and she was the only one who could understand the sounds he managed to emit. It was pretty hard. She was not happy with the task. I was uptight about asking difficult questions to that poor man in that situation and felt sympathy for the couple who were enduring so difficult time. But it was worth it. The interview made known the truth about the scandal that implicated several politicians and constructors, and the good name of that poor man was restored.

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Selfish Death

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Who can tell it? Oh yeah! How selfish! The desire to die is so strong sometimes, when the life seems so unbearable that one only can think in disappear and rest. But that’s a passing feeling, that comes when I’m down in the hole of my deep depression. It will pass. I keep telling myself. Luckily I have strong beliefs and I repeat to my self that I want to go when God wants the way he wants. Not a moment before, not a moment after. I have a lot to do here. I had people who depend on me. I can’t fail them. Love makes wonders.

We are seeing everyday how millions of refugees clings to life against all odds in their endless journey from their countries in war to the desired and often denied liberty. They only think in a better life for their children, far away from hunger, bombs, and sieges. To reach their goal they endure unimaginable difficulties and even humiliations. How many of them are right now at the open air enduring the low temperatures and the bad weather without a roof to shelter them, waiting helplessly blocked by closed borders in their way to their promise land: Germany?

My own parents have been refugees of war. They were homeless and had nowhere to go, like these people. And they did it. Here we are in a new country with our comfortable lives. With what right would I get discouraged while having all what I possibly need? I have to be grateful and glad.

I feel guilty for being sad, paralysed and depressed. But I can’t help myself. And I wake up crying uncontrollably without any reason, feeling exhausted, miserable, worth for nothing. Unable to see things in their right dimension. Feeling guilty doesn’t help me at all. It’s a vicious circle. I know I have to take care of myself and wait until the storm abates. Be a little selfish. But I don’t like to be selfish in life nor in death.

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Funny team

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My first boss had a peculiar sense of humour. We had formed a great team together. Lots of laughs. Nice time together. We were working in a newsroom of a newspaper in our city, but the main newsroom was in a bigger city, 200 km away.

The managers decided to cut expenses and close our newsroom with its six journalists and its administrative staff, leaving only one correspondent and a commercial. We had heard about that plan, when a manager announced a visit to our newsroom. His mission was to communicate the layoffs. To tell us one by one: “you are fired.” Devastating.

Before he arrived, my boss called a meeting and took us to a toys shop. We bought balloons, garlands , streamers , confetti , party blowers , firecrackers and things like that. Then we went to the wine shop and bought two bottles of Champaign. Finally we went back to the newsroom and decorated the office for a big feast. We hang a banner all along the room with the legend: “welcome.”

When the manager appeared at the door, very serious and worried with the task he had to do, we uncorked the bottles, while throwing the confetti and making all the festive noise we possibly could. Our boss went ahead to shake effusively the hand of the newcomer. The expression in the manager’s face was a poem. He was speechless. When he entered with our boss into his little office, another surprise was waiting. A banner with the words “Be aware, manager, You’re not in your territory here”, and a poem with funny rhymes asking him: what we’ve done to deserve this?.

The big city guy got surprised and then annoyed. We didn’t care. We knew there was nothing to do. He was not going to change a single thing.  We just decided to have a little fun instead to wait sadly doing nothing like a lamb to the slaughter.

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Odd Confidence

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I’ve been walking by the river’s bank this morning. It was a cold but gorgeous day. I’ve even crossed the river with my walker thru the narrow pedestrian bridge without railings to take pictures. Only a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have dared to do something like that out of fear to fall down, because I need help to walk. I ventured alone. The bridge is so narrow I was afraid that my walker could fall to the water while I was taking pictures, but it has brakes and nothing bad happened. I’ve had to put it just in the edge, to let the walkers could pass. The little bridge had a lot of traffic. A group of youngsters passed running, and several people walking. An old man stopped by to talk with me. another man helped me with my walker to  climb some stairs along the path. I’m glad I had that odd confidence in myself. It was worth it. Here are some of the pictures I took.

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Wandering Tree

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Summer is dangerous: so many fires! The trees get scared. They know there are arsonists in the area. Bad people. Some of them just are crazy people. Others, of them, paid by the promoters of new buildings complex who want to gain space into the woods and make huge profits selling luxury condos.
The trees are alive, and are a source of life. Rooted to their places in the forest, are home for many animals. But they can’t run away when the fire comes, like the birds that fly or the squirrels that jump and run. They are rooted and only can stay helplessly in their place. They stoically resist while feeling the burning flames are going to reach them. They know they probably will die charred if the firefighters don’t arrive in time. One by one, they fall, enveloped in flames. Decades, sometimes centuries of history destroyed in a few hours.
There was a forest where the trees met in a council. They have heard about the arsonists coming, and they were in high alert. So they chose a guard among them.
With a lot of effort, a tall poplar take out his roots from the soil and turned them into many long legs. He had to train a lot to learn how to keep the balance and use them to walk. But trees have a lot of patience and soon he began to wander along the forest.
When he spotted humans, he used to stay still and watch. If they were peaceful people, he just looked as any other tree in the forest, tall and quiet, with his leafs trembling with the breeze.
But when he saw somebody playing irresponsibly with fire or with wicked intentions, he suddenly unfolded his legs and began to run towards them. The arsonists fled, scared to death at the sight of what they thought it was a monster with a dozen legs. The foreigners began to say that the forest was haunted. Many undesired newcomers left the village, scared. But other people began to come attracted by the mysterious forest and its magical wandering tree.

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Perfect Shoe

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Run!, Run!. She didn’t think twice. They had just heard the sound of the launching of a missile and her guide knew it was aimed towards the place where they were standing.

A man in a nearby house called them: Over here! Over here! and showed them the entrance to a basement into a barn. He closed the entrance just when all exploded. They reached safety just for a second. She was lucky to have worn that day the perfect shoes to run really fast.

Down there, several families were sheltering from the bombing. They were sitting on the floor at the light of some candles, frightened. Women, children, men, elderly. A family in a corner was saying quietly the rosary. You could hear some sobbing. But mostly was reigning a deadly silence.

Those people were exhausted and frightened. They had to run to the basements every day. They looked at the newcomers, with their cameras and recorders, indifferently and sadly. Many reporters had visited before their village, taking pictures asking questions and promising they would tell their story, but nothing had changed. The journalists came and went, but the villagers had nowhere to go. their only option was stay there trying to survive.

When the bombing  stopped, the news team went out from the refuge and began to take pictures of the demolished house in front of which they had been just minutes before. In the middle of the street, a lone shoe lost by someone who had run like them in search of shelter was a reminder of how near of death they had been. A family was already in the damaged house trying to recover whatever had been left of their belongings.

The reporter climbed the ruins to see the destruction. She knew the language, so she talked with the family affected and their neighbours, to describe the whole episode better in her news report.

Later, before night, the team left the village and their frightened inhabitants. They had to continue their trip to complete their job, but it was not easy. Somehow, in their hearts, they wanted to know what would be the fate of those poor people who helped them in that critical moment of danger. Leave them behind was hard. It’s always hard.

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Saved by the Bell

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Victorious Wheel

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They had worked hard for centuries on the field, faithful to many peasants and lords. They had left their trace on the soil, marking thousands of paths over the wet and muddy soil of winter, or the dry and dusty ground of summer. No matter how hard the weather were, they were ready to go wherever was needed, hitched to the horses. Sometimes to work in the fields, sometimes to carry weights, sometimes to give a ride to their masters.
Time passed and the gum wheels became popular. Then they were discarded. Later, tractors arrived and nobody cared any more about the old wooden wheels. Many perished, rotted after years abandoned outside the old barns. Only had remained some pieces of rusty iron in remembrance of those glorious days, when wooden wheels were essential.
But in the village there was a family with love for the old memories. The grandfather had rescued the wheels of the old carriage just in time. They painted the wood with the bright colours it had had in its best times, and they put the victorious wheels that had survived the modern times, by the main door of the house.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Anything Man-Made

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Quiet Green

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I’m completely down. Things have complicated lately. My doctor changed my medication and is not working. I’m dizzy and nervous. My mom has had a domestic accident and now we have to go every day to the doctor at the local health centre. It’s not easy to get there pushing the wheelchair. But we have to go there to cure a nasty wound in her leg that needs daily care. It’s infected. I’m worried, because is not getting better. In addition, our caregiver, has had an arson in her home and she’s not around these days, poor thing. So we are basically on our own. And it’s not easy. I have to appear happy and confident when I’m with my mom, and that also is difficult. When I’m alone I feel extremely tired and sad. I know I have to be strong and healthy to help her. I’ve been neglecting my blog. I have no strength nor the willing to write. In the middle of this situation, a friend of mine took me out last Sunday just for an hour to a village close to my city and I relaxed looking at the beautiful, quiet, green landscapes. It was just what I needed.

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Hilarious Mistake

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When I arrived to New York for the first time with almost no idea of English, I was like walking on a dream. The people rushing everywhere, street performers. Skyscrapers, Little and colourful flower shops. Executives, homeless. Claustrophobia on the subway at rush hour, Fresh air on quiet walks through Central Park. Art in the museums, filth in lost streets. Pedestrians, traffic.

Going out of home every day was an adventure full of surprises for my wide open eyes, eager of new sensations. I enjoyed the life in my new city. Every day a had a nice walk and some days I used to take the subway to go to the Rockefeller Centre to do a report about the Associated Press Agency. Very interesting. I even was invited to be present in their morning editors meeting with live connexions with the correspondents all around the world to talk about the news of the day. In just fifteen minutes, you could have a digest of the situation of the world and the main reports for the day. I have always been in the receiving end of the big news agencies and never had seen how they work inside. It was very instructive. When I was there, at their offices, working in my research, I used to pay a visit to St. Patrick Cathedral at lunch time, or take a walk on Fifth Ave.

I lived in lower Manhattan and I used to walk a lot around my apartment. Before I ventured to go to the Associated Press offices, when I was trying to put together my English, I had plenty of time to explore the city. I noticed that there were a lot of little shops to do the nails in my street. Something that in my country didn’t exist. Those shops also offered waxing legs. But with my poor English I understood “washing” instead of “waxing”. So I was really intrigued. Why would somebody want to go to a shop to wash her legs?. It had to be a very special legs bath, I thought. And offered in so many shops! It must have a lot of customers. I was really puzzled. So one day I was walking with a friend, and we saw one of these shops. Then I told her. I understand the nails business but I can’t understand why there are so many shops to wash legs. I think she is still laughing.

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Vivacious Nature

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Iraizotz (14 of 17)

Last Sunday I went for a quick walk to a  picturesque village near Pamplona, the city where I live, with the idea to explore the surroundings. For me it was a great adventure, because I need a walker to move around and it is useless to go thru the paths full of stones. I’m confined to the city. But this time a friend challenged me and offered me help. So I ventured walking leaning on my friend’s arm. For the first time in years, I have been in the middle of nature. We left behind the houses, took a path and went on thru the green fields to contemplate the nice sights of the nearby mountains. We even spotted an eagle flying around. It was a short hiking. Only a few minutes, but enough to feel the charm of the nature. What a joy! I took some pictures.

Iraizotz (7 of 17)

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Mushy stock

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He was taking part in a medieval fair. His was a big attraction. Lots of people were stopping at his tent to look at him working to form beautiful blue crystal vases. It was like magic. He had a furnace, several pipes, a bench a rag and a bucket with water. He had a small stock of glass pieces attached to the pipes in the furnace.

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The glass melted was like small balls of fire, red and yellow. He took one of the pipes and began to work with the melted glass, hot, mushy, and malleable, till he achieved the form of the body of the vase. With another pipe and another smaller piece of melted glass, he made the bottom of the vase, and opened the top, giving form to it.

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Finally ,with a third pipe and another piece of melted glass he formed the handle of the vase. When the glass cooled, it became bright blue. Now the material wasn’t mushy and malleable but solid and fragile. In the furnace, there were waiting more pipes with melted glass attached to them to form more beautiful pieces.

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Fragile Tune

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The world was in war. But he was young and he fell madly in love. His heart was full of sweetness. She was good, smart and beautiful. His first and only love. They knew that life during a war was uncertain. They knew about death, suffering, and destruction. He had been taken prisoner and almost killed recently. So they decided to get married as soon as possible and live together the precious moments they could share. They didn’t want to lose a moment no matter the difficulties. They were extremely poor and they had to endure together cold and hunger. But they were happy just to have each other.

He had a nice tenor voice and used to sing to her beautiful melodies; ancient love songs he had learnt from his father.

But their time together ended soon.

The war was stronger than them. At one point, they found themselves in opposite sides of a closed border. He couldn’t come back to his country, and she couldn’t go out with their small daughter. The war ended, the border got sealed and all hopes of a fast solution to their case vanished. He began a life in exile and tried with all his means to bring her out without success.

Everywhere he went he learned new love songs thinking on his forbidden and beloved wife. And he sang them when he was alone.

Twelve years passed till they finally got a permit for her to travel out of the country. He had left his daughter as a four months baby, and he met her as a thirteen years old girl in the family reunion in the Munich train station.

Now that they were together again, he could sing aloud to his only love the songs he had learned during all those years. She smiled. She always smiled.

Years passed and they grew old together. When his battered body couldn’t bear up any more, he had to go to the hospital, almost unable to move and talk, and never came back.

***

It was a gorgeous day. Warm and sunny. Sunday morning. I was with him at his bedside. He had his eyes closed. The TV monitor was on, and they were broadcasting a concert by the three tenors (Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras). Luciano Pavarotti began to sing a Neapolitan song. “Non ti scordar di me” (Don’t forget about me). My dad said from his bed: “I know this song”.
He began to sing in Italian with his frail voice to me:

Don’t forget about me.
My life is tied to you
I love you more and more
In my dream you stay

Don’t forget about me
My life is tied to you
There’s always a nest
In my heart for you

Don’t forget about me

Don’t forget about me

It was one of the songs he learned in Italy for my mom fifty years ago when they didn’t know if they were going to get reunited again. But this time he was singing to me.

Don’t forget about me. Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll never forget about you. My life is tied to you.

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Tired Lesson

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Getting up each morning was a heroic act. She wasn’t entirely conscious of what was going on. She felt terribly tired, and any effort seemed unbearable. But she had a family to take care of and a job to keep, so she dragged herself each morning to perform her duties. Days were long and dark like endless tunnels. She only wanted to disappear. She constantly was thinking that everything she was doing was wrong. That her life was not worthy. But the love for her family made her go on and on working and trying to disguise her tiredness. She didn’t know if her boss had noticed that she was falling into a deep depression. She didn’t want to recognise that it was a depression. Her best friend had noticed and had saved her from many tricky situations offering her help or taking her out of the office for a quick walk when she was about to burst in tears in public.

One day she had to give a lecture to a group of young students. She had her notes and her presentation careful prepared, as always. But she couldn’t resist any more. She gave the entire lecture perfectly, but tears were rolling down her cheeks constantly. She couldn’t help herself. There was dead silence in the classroom. everyone was hanging on her words. She cleared her voice and continued despite the tears, till the end of the presentation. Her lecture was brilliant. There was an ovation. The students were impressed by that unusual lesson. She couldn’t even smile at them. She was exhausted. She only wanted to find a hidden spot to cry alone with her weakness.

It was the end. Or the beginning. She finally asked for a leave of absence and accepted she needed professional help. She learned from that tired lesson she gave, that she couldn’t go on like that any more. It was for the good of her family. It was for her good.

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Puzzled being

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This morning I turned on my computer, and the first message the screen has shown me was from Facebook. One of those birthdays reminders. One of my best friends from my time at the University would be today 57 years old. I shivered. She passed away last year after a short but hard battle against cancer. She was a journalist like me, a dedicated mother and an activist had an intense life. her death caused me a lot of sorrow. And I was just a friend. How many people close to her will receive today that same notification? How many will feel reopen their wounds? Mine was still fresh and painful. I’ve dropped a tear, I’ve said a prayer for her and then I’ve smiled. She probably is laughing seeing our puzzled eyes. Because I’m sure she is looking at us from a better place. Many memories have come to my mind this morning and they were all cheerful.

But what happened with Facebook? Maybe nobody in her family tried to cancel the account . Maybe they tried, and get discouraged because the process is so difficult it takes a research on-line to do it and find the hidden menus you need. And you can’t cancel an account immediately. You have to order the cancellation and then you have to wait 14 days. And beware checking it, because if they detect any activity in the account in this lapse of time the process can be interrupted. I have a page that I want to delete since months ago. I followed the instructions and there is no way. The page still active. Why this social networks are so possessive? Even after death?

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Zany Bird

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bird (1 of 1)

Tich used to go out of his nest every day to explore the world and get some food for hungry family. He worked hard to find worms here and there and fly back home on the lush tree next to the river. Three chicks with their peaks open were waiting for him. Always asking for more. Always the same routine. Go out, hunt, find worms and come back as soon as possible. And he was always dreaming on flying far away and sing like a canary. But he was a common wild bird, with a lot of responsibilities. A wife and three chicks! He couldn’t wait for the moment the chicks would learn how to fly.

Meanwhile, Tich was leaving the nest every day to do his duties, not after performing stunts for the delight of his children while singing, with his cracked voice, wonderful melodies he had learnt when he had approached the city, where the canaries lived. The chicks chirped amazed. Daddy, Daddy, do it again! And then, Tich would make for them an elegant loop or a frightening free drop. The kids were proud of their father. His wife was a little ashamed because there was a lot of buzz around about him and begged him to stop being so strange and behave like an average bird.

All the other birds of the tree thought Tich was mad. All that strange singing, his dangerous flights… They thought he was making a fool of himself and that he was setting a bad example for the youngsters.
But Tich enjoyed his way of life, and he began to go farther and farther looking for food. One day he arrived to the big park in the city. There were a lot of worms because the gardeners had changed all the flower beds for the summer and the soil was fresh and moist. There was an open space with a big statue in the middle. An ideal place to practice his flight stunts.

That day he found a lot of humans seated around the monument. Some of them had strange wooden and metal objects in their hands. And then he heard it. Symphonic music. He didn’t know, but the monument represented a famous tenor from the XIX century. It was his anniversary and his fans celebrated it with a little open air concert. Some musicians and singers were performing fragments of the opera “The Pearl Fishers” by Georges Bizet.  Tich flew to the top of the statue and listened mesmerised by the new sounds, eager to learn the new melodies.  A man was singing in french:

I think I still hear,
hidden under palm trees,
her voice soft and sound
like a song of wood pigeons…

Tich couldn’t understand the words, but he felt beauty and love. He didn’t know the humans envied the bird’s voices. He certainly liked that human music. And began to sing out of happiness. He tried the new melody and oh wonder! His voice was not cracked any more. His trill flowed clear, musical and full of wonderful harmonies.

Since then, Tich, the crazy, wild bird from the tree by the river, flew every day to the park, and sang the romantic song he learned on that very spot. Humans taking a walk used to stop to listen to him.
This is not a common bird, they thought, and tried to spot him. They were looking for some rare creature and didn’t pay attention on him, perched in a branch nearby.

He looked very common. But he wasn’t. He had become a great singer. Like the man in the statue.

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Difficult Difference

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She was taller than the rest of us. I can’t remember her name, but I can see her face, always frightened, with her eyes looking around, a little lost, as searching for help. She had trouble understanding simple words. I had trouble too. But my case was different. I was an immigrant and I simply didn’t know the language.
I remember one day the teacher was asking us for the meaning of the word “maybe” and we had to compose sentences using that word properly. She did it wrong and everybody laughed. I didn’t. I thought it was cruel. I had experienced so many times the laughing of the other kids at my way of speaking, so strange for them, that I could figure out what my tall classmate was going through. The bewilderment, the uncertainty, the distress, the shame. The need to disappear, to go home and hide.
There is no help. The more you try to do it right, the more you rack your brain to find the right word, the most probabilities you have to say something wrong and provoke more laughs. No mistake. There is no way to avoid jokes and shame. You have to learn to live with it. And is not easy until you stop worrying about it. But for that you must grow up. And she hadn’t the chance.
She had trouble with more things. I didn’t know by then, none of us did. But she was very sick. She was older than us, that was the reason she was taller. She had some brain disease and she died too young. Nobody at our class laughed at her any more. All the kids cried remembering her. And we needed help to understand why somebody had had to go to heaven so soon. School and life are sometimes very cruel.

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Super Glass

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glass (1 of 1)

He was four, restless, naughty. Had a powerful lungs and a loud voice and was always yelling and running around. No fragile things were safe with him around. The teachers at the kindergarten were desperate with him. A truly problematic kid.

His parents took him with them to a trip to visit his grandparents. Grandpa was very sick, in a wheelchair. He was an intellectual with a powerful mind now confined in an impaired body.

When he got to know his little grandson he said “this boy is gonna be a genius”.

He was the first one to predict a good future to him.

The kid was like mesmerised looking at his Grandpa and for once remained quiet.

Once the family went out for a walk and he insisted to try to push the wheelchair. He was so small he couldn’t possibly see where he was going, but had so much strength that he really pushed the chair and he almost crashed grandpa against a fountain. Everybody was running to stop him and avoid a catastrophe, but grandpa was laughing. He seemed to had a great time.

They had a special bond between them.

Sometimes the old man had cough attacks, pretty anguishing. Then the grandson would run to the kitchen to get a glass of fresh water and hurriedly offer it to his Grandpa.

You’ll feel better, You’ll see, the kid said while caressing him

Every time grandpa felt bad the little rascal was there. Not scared, or disgusted. Just ready with his super glass of water to ease the suffering of his beloved old man.

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