Day 20. “Bird talk” #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 20th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

2:00 pm (PST). Today I am pulling out the book Writing to senses> 59 exercises to ignite creativity and revitalize your writing by Laura Deutsch and I will use it like the Russian roulette. Instead of a gun I will use one finger. Wherever my finger lands, I will do the writing exercise suggested, no matter how hard I find it or how much I hate it. I am finding very difficult to focus right now, so a little bit of guidance won’t hurt.


2:15 pm (PST) Chapter 14 Bird talk, page 68. I think I can do this! The exercise suggests to find a place outdoors (yes!); listen deeply, and describe what I hear, and what stories arise from there. I will need to apply a lot of my mindfulness skills, otherwise my mind will wonder off. I will take the dogs for a walk and get the mail. I haven’t check it in 2 days. Our mailbox is around a mile and a half away, and I don’t want to take the car. When I return, we will see what I come up with. Til then now.


6:45 pm. (PST) Here we go.

I didn’t want to grab the leashes before I eat something, otherwise the dogs will know what I was up to, and wouldn’t stop barking until I have have swallowed my last bite. As soon as I was ready and put their harnesses on, my house was filled with barks of joy and wagging tails galore. I grabbed Clyde, who is 14 years old and blind, while Buck, our Andalucian teckel, age 8 and full of energy darted through the doggie door. At the porch I felt the air, I love the smell of wet dirt, Juniper trees and Sage brushes. On our gravel driveway I put both dogs in their double leash, the only way Clyde can walk that isn’t in circles.

Our steps were steady, I could hear our paws and feet stepping on the little pebbles of the road. Crunch, crunch, crunch. The dogs next door started barking of jealousy. In one point they were 5 of them. Mad dogs, didn’t let us walk in peace. When finally we passed the dogs, we were able to hear roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing, and horses trotting happy since they canceled the rodeos of the season. Half way through to the mail box, I felt somebody in my back. It was a man. Probably he felt my uneasiness even from the distance and told me: Just going for a walk. He smiled and passed by. I had just finished “Neck, 1990”, the first chapter of I am, I am, I am: Seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O’Farrell, probably not the best book to read during the Covid19 outbreak, but she’s such a good writer. In the first chapter, the author is hiking alone when she encounters a man in the middle of nowhere. I don’t have to tell you that it was a pleasant rendezvous. My mind started to spin 200 miles per hour. I was just feeling his presence on my back, but I couldn’t look back all paranoid, but yes, I was. Mindfulness was not working at all. I had the dogs, I thought. He will be scared of the dogs. Not really. My dogs are pathetic. One can’t see a thing, and the other has a brain smaller than the pebbles we were walking on. I  glanced at him pretending I didn’t care. He looked at me and said what he said, and my freaking out moment passed. Seconds later I was watching the silhouette of one very harmless old man balancing around happily in the horizon. No wonder my daughter told me this morning that I needed to chill out.

10:00 pm. Sorry, I got a little bit distracted. My husband arrived, we had supper and just finished watching “Free solo” thanks to the suggestion of a fellow slicer that now I can’t remember. If you happen to have read her slice or are actually her, please let me know, and I will hypelink her post. Thanks for the recommendation. I really enjoyed the documentary. Very well done and up-nerving, like everything in life.

Continuing with “my outside” observation, I have to say that we saw a father with her daughter riding a very tiny bike being dragged by a police dog on a leash. When they crossed us, the dogt almost throw the dad to the ground.We eventually got the mail, we heard some crows crowing, saw 10 cars passing by, five deer roaming, 9 cows ruminating, and our neighbors stopping to say hi from a brown Chevy suburban that I swear it passed twice, or everybody has the same car around here. My dogs found a hole that dug for 20 minutes, and at mile 2, Clyde refused to move. I have to carry him the last stretch home. After 2 hours, we made it back. I did a 2.8 mile outside observation, and I talked like a bird.

Disclaimer: We live in a very remote area. Our land faces BLM land, and we barely see our neighbors. I don’t want anybody to think that I am walking around spreading the COVID19 to my community. Oddly enough, I felt that today it was the most amount of people I have seen since last July on a Friday at 4 pm. Or maybe, it was the normal back from work rush hour.

the three of us (Small)
The three of us
My neighborhood (Small)
My neighborhood
Clyde is done (Small)
Clyde is done

Writing with the senses

Day 19. Festival of Fire #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 19th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Spaniards love festivals and celebrations. Due to the coronavirus crisis many of these very important events have to be postponed or cancel. One of them is Las Fallas festival (or the Festival of Fire) in Valencia. The event is celebrated during the first three weeks of  March with public events all over this autonomous community. In 2016, the festival was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

We never went to Valencia much less to watch las Fallas (it´s in my bucket list) but we always were impressed to see on TV those big pieces of art on a float. People devote more than 6 months to build them and spend thousand of dollars with the hope to win one of the prizes of the best Ninots (the name of these big caricatures), and finally burn them on the day of La Cremà, March 19th.

According to the official tourism website of Valencia, the origin of las Fallas comes from the old carpenter’s tradition who, when celebrating the arrival of spring on 19th March, used to burn pieces of wood (parota) that were used to prop up their lights during the winter.
To this initial fire, people started to add old clothes and belongings to the point that the wooden structure took the shape and aspect of a human. Eventually those structures evolved to become the ninots that we know today. Soon enough the Spanish humor and irony was shown in the ninots. Many of the floats are a satire of real life, politics, religions, pop culture and many other aspects of Spanish life.

Today was the day of la Crema, that many Valencians were preparing with so much hope and care. A rite that didn’t happen. My brother sent me on Instagram a post from Alejandro Martìnez Notte (@martineznotte) telling the story of a five year old girl who was dreaming of this day the entire year. Her parents managed to celebrate la Cremá in confinement. They made a Ninot with what they found at home. They called it Coronavirus, and they burnt it today through the symbolic ritual of finishing with the obsolete, the injustice, of what is worthless, to reborn year after year from ashes. March 19th, 2020 Valencia doesn’t have Fallas. Silence. No Cremà. No music. No laughter. Just hope.

You can see the entire post with some photos and a video here.

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Here are some photos of previous Fallas by David MarkAlejandro Vidal and  chusa8 from Pixabay

 

Day 18. My brain is a white screen #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 18th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

I remember when I was a girl I taught myself to think of a white screen when I have trouble to fall asleep. For me counting sheep was very distracting. They were always rebellious sheep that didn’t jump in an orderly manner. The white screen worked for me many times if I concentrated really hard and stick with the concept of a white screen. But often, a bubble gum appeared in one corner or in the middle of the screen; sometimes was a spot of ink, or a red dot, that started to grow and grow and change shapes and become something else. I stayed awake for hours wrestling in my sleep.

Today my brain is something else, filled with images that I can’t shake it out. They have frozen my creativity,  making me feel mono-thematic, or guilty or superfluous or both if I write light fiction or about the wonderful bike ride I did today. I feel that my brain is filled with dark images and ideas, that as soon as I open the computer, turn into a white screen.

Day 17. Following the protocol #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 17th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

After three days of not going into town, Pia offered her husband to do the groceries. She spent the entire afternoon hiking with their dog at the Smith Rock State Park while he was working in his warehouse. The list was not outrageous but somehow ordinary articles with one or two odd things. She opened her phone and reviewed the list that they have put together:
bran muffins
boneless chunk roast, round steak or stew meat to cut squares (this is Steve)
sour cream
egg noodles
tomatoes
onions
flour
yeast
bread
fruit
sodium hydroxide or lye, caustic soda, or pure or food-grade sodium hydroxide
coconut oil
some sort of cookies maybe waffle or Belvita Breakfast Biscuits Cranberry Orange (this is Pia).

After four stops, she managed to bring home everything but lye. It seems the entire country decided to make soap, Pia thought.

When she open the door, a soft voice came from the speakers: Welcome home, Pia. We have noticed that you were out of the premises. Please, remove your clothing and be ready for the routine screening to comply with the protocol. 

Pia puts gently on the floor the grocery bags, and undress herself nonchalantly. Please, hold your arms up and be ready to follow disinfection.

A soft mist sprays from the ceiling covering her entire figure. For two minutes she stays still while the voice count. Finally, it says. You are cleared and may get dress. She grabs her clothes and place them in the laundry basket, and walk to her room to look for her pajama. She kisses her husband, and together they start unloading the bags while telling each other their day.


New selfie
Three monkey faces: Pia & Buck at Smith Rock State Park with the rock monkey face

 

Day 15. My fairy tale nightmare (Part 2. The fairy tale) ·SOL2020 #SOLC

Again, four legged guest blogger, Buck, is with you today with the second part of  the narration of his fairy-tale.

serious Buck

Dear readers, it has been seven month since my last entry. My apologies. I guess when you are in fairyland you don´t have time for thinking or writing. Also, it´s taking me a while to sink in my thoughts, which are small and brief, contrary to winter in Central Oregon.

Now that Pia and I are in confinement, besides my regular naps, I have more time to write. Also it snowed today and it´s below 0ºC. An andaluz like me shall never go out in this weather (unless Pia forces me. I am getting into the bad habit of peeing too often inside the house when it´s too cold; she is getting into the habit of watching me fiercely until I pee outside).

I left my tale when I was crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a humongous vacuum cleaner, and was on the verge of dying of thirst and anxiety. After 10  hours of incessant noise, somebody grabbed my 20 by 20 inches cage, and dropped me in front of Pia’s feet, my savior. At this point though,  I didn’t know whether she was on my side or not. At least, she cut the plastic zip cable ties that were locking my kennel. In less that a minute I was peeing outside of what I learned later, it was Portland International Airport. I thought I was free for good, when Pia put me back in the kennel. It was the Groundhog day movie all over. This time everybody knew of my existence, and the vacuum cleaner sound lasted only for an hour. It stopped suddenly. I heard a man telling Pia that they were not waiting since they were having a fire drill. They dropped me like an ordinary suitcase and asked us to leave the airport as soon as possible. I was happy to be on a leash. It was around 5 am Spain time, and 8 pm the day before in Redmond, Oregon. The air was warm and breezy. It felt good. I was whining and shaking beyond my comprehension. I didn’t know what we were doing, so didn’t Pia. I heard her whining also because she couldn’t find a taxi and didn’t have a phone to get an Uber. When we entered again in the airport building for help, the fire alarm started to sound. It was insane. I never heard of such a thing. I was missing Clyde, Steve, the donkey next door. Everybody spoke in English. Good thing I was raised bilingual.

Finally, a taxi showed up and Pia rushed in to it. We drove for about 40 minutes. The driver was Mexican. Never heard from that country before. When we got out and the car left, it was dark. I heard some growling, and nothing else. Pia looked for a set of keys and open the door of an empty house.No couch, no cushions, no beds. Just an inflatable mattress of dubious quality. I was so hungry, and so, so thirsty. Pia turned the flashlight of her Spanish phone and started walking outside. The ground was soft, but there were many rocks, bushes, and trees that smell really, really interesting. I paddle along Pia, very close to her heels. We finally arrived to a shed. I heard Pia cursed in English and Spanish. We entered in the empty house again. Pia called Steve. They argued. Pia told him: No Steve, I am not going to go with an ax and destroyed the lock of the water house. Somebody locked it, and I don’t have water. But it is dark like a wolf’s  mouth. I am with Buck following me like a little lamb, and there are actually wolves bawling, and it’s 10 pm. I am really tired. I think I will go to bed and deal with the water issue tomorrow. 

Sure enough. In five minutes, Pia inflated the bed and snuggle with me.  It was cold. I shivered and cry the entire night. We woke up really early, or late, depending of the time we followed. I looked at Pia, asking her when we were coming back home. She replied: this is home now, Buck. You better get use to it.

Turned out that the owner of the lot next to us put a lock on the water house. The problem was solved at 9 am in the morning. I drunk nonstop two full bowls of water and Pia took a long and warm shower. For two days and two nights I whined and shivered like crazy. I couldn’t fall asleep. Pia rubbed my chest with lavender essential oil. It felt good, I have to confess, My mind was foggy, perturbed, I was a mess.

Pia started to get the house a little bit cozier but no signs of a couch or bed. She started to take me out for walks, and hikes. The first time we walked down to the Steelhead Falls Trail at 2 pm on a sunny August day. No big deal, Pia thought. We were sevillanos! Turned out to be very dry and hot! We almost die. Pia had to wet her hat in the Deschutes river and place it on my head. She also put me in the river. I was scared at the beginning, but felt so good that I let her do it a couple of times. I was so out of shape that on the way up River Road, I stopped, and refused to move. My tongue was almost touching the ground. Pia had to carry me all the way home.

Little by little I knew my life was going to turn good. Even Vincent, Pia’s son, visited me for ten days. Yes, he stayed with me, not Pia. I don’t know where Pia went. But he took me to a couple of hikes, and places with a friend, and we snuggle together at night. When Pia came back, she took me every day for a walk or a run to a fascinating loop with all sort of smells. Rabbits, and birds roamed in front of my snout. Yummy carcasses lay in the most surprising places. This was heaven.

I was getting already accustom to the fact that maybe Steve and Clyde died in a natural disaster, when all of the sudden they showed up in the middle of September, and pretty soon my beloved couch and beds and everything also! It took me a while to get accustom that Steve and Clyde were getting Pia distracted from my walks. I was even kicked out of the bed. However things started to settle in, and I am having both worlds now: best naps and food with Steve, and thrilling hikes and runs with Pia. No offense, Steve, but I prefer Pia as a runner. Her rhythm is gentle and slow. You just wear me out!

Winter though, that’s another story.

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