Toy stories 7 to the last #SOL Tuesday

While on the plane to Frankfurt I am tweaking my last Instagram toy stories. Hopefully I can publish this slice during SOL Tuesday before I board my plane to Oregon. This is it. Today I am starting a new chapter of my life. Excited to see how it will evolve.

#Toystory7

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Even though technically this is not a toy but a wedding present given to us almost 26 years ago by our dear family friend, Omar , this fish mobile is the winner of the wedding present—toy combo survivor category.

While I was cleaning all the big and little fish, I remembered all the stories behind the hanging, unhanging, packings and unpackings of this mobile. When we got it my husband looked at it and said: “I love these fish. There are so colorful. I can picture them in our future home. This mobile will follow us wherever we go.” Little he knew that literally these fish have crossed two big oceans and a sea a couple of times. Little Omar knew his present was going to be part of the fabric of our family. At each house we had the ceremony of unpacking the mobile, untangle and balance the pieces together. Then it was followed by a brief discussion lead by Steve with his hammer on hand of where we were going to hang it. Finally the place was sealed until the next move.
Our kids as babies enjoyed the movement of the mobile. When they were unsettled we walked next to the mobile and observed it together for a while. When the fish touched each other, the wood made a crisp sound. Almost always it did the trick of distracting the baby in our hands and switched their pain on an awe. Later, the discussion of where to hang the fish were made together as a family. Here in Spain, it took us a while to decide the perfect place, since the house was a little bit darker and with no open spaces like in the other houses. But the mobile found its place in a corner of the living room. It gathered for ten years a bunch of dust and spider webs for being up high and never touched but by the morning wind. Eventually I took it down this week, cleaned it real good, and placed carefully all its pieces wrapped on paper inside box number 78.
I wonder if this mobile made an impact on my children as it did, does on me. I wonder what part of it they remember or if they even know what I’m talking about.

#Toystory8

There are some things that you have to let go but take a photo of them to remind you of some moments of your children’s life. When Matilde was probably 14 or 15 she asked us to get her a mirror for her room. We told her she didn’t need one. She had the mirror of the bathroom next door. She insisted and we fought back. It was out of the question. One day Matilde arrived home with a beaten up mirror she found who knows where. She cleaned it and painted it, and asked her dad to secure it on one wall in her room. And Steve did. There, our daughter got her mirror.

The other day we were showing one of our handlebar bike basket that we used in the Camino de Santiago to one of Vincent’s friend. He said “look, there is something inside” I said “I bet this was Vincent’s basket.” When we saw what was inside I said: “THIS was Vincent’s basket for sure” while holding in my hands the almost fossilized piece of cow’s set of teeth.

#Toystory9

It seems that handarbeiten are not my forte. I started this embroidery when Matilde was born more than 23 years ago. I think I got into dinosaur one and left it probably because I couldn’t stay still. I continued with Vincent, 21 one years ago and got into dinosaur number two. Probably I didn’t finish the design because I was packing.
Anyway, another survivor. I feel very proud of it. It maintains its colors and the white hasn’t turned yellow. Needless to say that it was shipped to Oregon.

#Toystory10

This is it. Today I left behind the biggest toys of all, our home in la Matilla. Yesterday, I spent 12 hours cleaning its walls, doors, closets and floors. I enjoyed it. It was as if I was cleansing all the mistakes I committed here. It was also soothing. I could say goodbye to every single corner of it while I was caressing them with water, detergent and chlorine. While listening to the Beatles and the sound of the cloth splashing, I remember moments of happiness, of sadness, of amazement and sometimes of despair and frustration. We had a great time in this house with its ups and downs as life itself. We owned every moment and that’s what’s I call happiness.
This drawing was made by my dear cousin Maria Isidora who came with her husband Keno a couple of years ago and enjoyed the charm of our home and the great cooking of Steve. I don’t know what has the house but every person that stopped by got trapped by its enchantments. To me, my kids, the doggies, the cats, and Steve were the pillars of this charm. Without them, this house is just a dilapidated place.
Time to start finding the enchantments of another home. I’m getting ready my broom for the long ride.

#Lasttoystory

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I found this little figure of St. James in Vincent’s room. It made sense. Vincent’s middle name is James, in honor and memory of grandpa McCann. I didn’t have the fortune of meeting Jim but I have known him vicariously through the stories of his children, especially Steve and Laura, one of my sisters-in-law. Jim was a great man and I’m glad my son has his name.
Today Buck and I are embarking in our plane to Oregon. Last Thursday we sent all our belongings on a truck. Steve will join me later with Clyde and hopefully the cats, Lola and Ralph. We will definitely need the protection of St. James who protected us in El Camino de Santiago. Now he will be taking care of us in our new Camino. And the spirit of grandpa Jim will prevail in our home.

 

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Toy stories 1 to 6 #SOL Tuesday

I am moving back to the US after spending ten years of my life in Spain. Moving is good and painful, and the process of packing is exhausting but very healing.

Getting rid of things is a powerful tool. I kept reminding myself that I should let things go. We are ending up with almost 90 boxes of books, clothes and memorabilia I collect for the sake of collecting. I am a trained historian and the fact that information we will need in the future will be intangible makes me hard to let go easily maps, stubs of museums, movies,  plays, drama, metro, buses, or a pamphlet handed out on the street. Everything reminded me of something.

While packing, and putting things for a garage sale, I started a series of stories about the toys I found of my already in college children. These toys were the survivors. I posted the stories in Instagram but now that I am almost done packing, and the truck is coming on Thursday, I decided to gather them all in one long blog post, taking advantage of the quietness before the storm, and that today is SOL Tuesday.

#toystory1

Before starting our yard sale, I made sure to send photos to my kids with all the stuff that we were selling that were theirs. My daughter basically told us she was a hoarder and we could get rid of everything since she didn’t remember most of the stuff.

In any case, when I discovered Slinky and the marionette, I couldn’t put them in the pile of 1, 2 or 3 euros. They remind me so much of her. I can’t get rid of them. I will put them in a room in our home in Oregon to show every person who visit us who Matilde Is: the juggler, the globetrotter the doglovermati. Cómo te quiero, guati ❤️🐕🌎🤹‍♀️ #dollstory1

#toystory2

Demon Doll (Small)

This is another item that didn’t make it to the yard sale.  This is a REAL survivor.
Matilde received this doll as a present from her aunt Alejandra and uncle Matias when she was around two. It was hate at the first sight. Never care , never played with her. I remember my mom trying to teach her how to pretend that the doll was her baby and Matilde looking at her terrified waving her little right hand saying firmly, no,no,no,. and walking away. I remember my dad saying: “Toda la razón. ¡Esto es mucha responsabilidad!”. (She is completely right. Having a baby it’s too much responsibility!).

Nevertheless, for some mysterious reasons the baby made all the cuts of our moves: from Chile to Montana, to Maryland, to Virginia, to Oregon, to Spain. When Matilde was around 11, the baby starts having appearance in her life again by making it as primer figure in her videos (” Me the model” being the launching of her career as the mistreated baby of a model by all the rough housing of Vincent). Soon she became the star of every single performance created by Matilde. The doll has been into Sevilla’s street inside a suitcase dragged on a bike, throw through stairs, and who knows what else.

In this photo, the demon baby— as Mati and Vincent call her affectionately— is posing happily with Matilde’s recently washed original baptism outfit, tights and jumper. She is ready to cross again the Atlantic ocean, through the Panama Canal to her place in Oregon until Matilde rescues her.
Sorry Vincent, I can’t follow your WhatsApp’s commands: “Throw that evil baby away, ive always hated that possessed doll“. Matilde thinks that after all she might be her child. #dollstory2

PS: This story was so popular with my selected group of followers that my friend and leader of my Spanish Writing Workshop got inspired and wrote a short story in Spanish called “La muñeca” (The doll) using my daughter´s dislike for dolls  and my dad´s observation as starting and ending points respectively.

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#toystory3 

Bolones (Small)

These marbles went into the garage sale. Nobody got them. I thought that if I were a kid I would love to have them. In any case, not too many kids came. I decided to rescue them and pack them away. Last week while packing and cleaning Vincent’s room, I found two piles of marbles inside a pair of soccer socks. In one sock were bolitas and in the other bolones. A little boy got the little marbles probably because they were more. But the one that were really “valuable” were the big bolones. They reflect a little bit of my son.

Vincent didn’t keep too many things in his room. His childhood’s toys were marked by waves of obsessions. At one, he only cared about one movie, the soporific “The Incredible Journey “, water in all places and forms, and all sort of balls. At two he was obsessed with little cars. I used to buy a set of four of them in Toys R Us, and bribed him every time he went to the bathroom. Soon enough I realized I would have tons of little cars spread all over the house, so I decided to recycle them. Since he lived in his own world, he never noticed that I was using the same cars over and over again.

At three he discovered trucks and tractors in Montana. He looked with big eyes the huge trucks toys that his cousins Ben and Simon had, but actually his biggest obsession was jumping on a real truck with his uncle Curt. Whenever he couldn’t take him, he run to me crying in a desolation that I couldn’t appease until Curt was back, and the hope of getting on the truck flourished again.

Then came rocks, knives and swords, the Rubik cube, the card tricks, rotten bones of animals kept in his pockets, rock music, and the marbles. The fact that he didn’t give them away made me think that probably he cared for them. He never answered my whatsapps asking what to do with them. By heart, he is a hoarder, like all of us. Maybe he didn’t have the guts to tell me to pack something so mundane.To me the bolones are part of my son, valuable to the core, with a brain full of thoughts and a heart full of feelings. The marbles need to be kept in socks, otherwise they get disperse. You treasure them. You can’t play meaningless with them.

#toysory4

Do not disturb (Small)

Packing a home of ten years to move back overseas (yes, we are going over seas) is not an ordinary matter. When I learned how much a moving company charged to pack all our stuff, I cried. I just have broken my pinky toe and was particularly sensitive. I looked at the amount of things that overflowed our home, and the two dogs and two cats that were watching me unsettled. A considerable amount of advise from family and friends begun to arrive via whatsapp, emails and social media. “Be simple,” “be happy”, “don´t take anything”, “follow Marie Kondo´s advise”. “With the money of the container buy everything new when you come back.”

With Steve we tried to assess the situation. We were going to pack the stuff ourselves and try to reduce what we bring back to the “simple life.” And then, then is when a new Pia, willing to deal with the mountains accumulated over the years, diligent like a faithful soldier and empowered by all the Kondo´s style advise, touched the knob of the door to open Vincent´s room, and saw the “Do not Disturb Sign”. We were in some store in the US, and I have told firmly to the children that they can choose ONE item. Vincent picked out this stuffed lion cub. I was surprise by his choice, and even told Steve about it. Vincent was probably 10 or 11. He was a strong boy. At two he could pack 2 kilos of avocados while helping at the parcela my parents had near Santiago. At ten he could knocked down kids, if he wanted but he never did. He has to be very mad, to use his strength. And he wanted this stuffed animal. I can see his eyes shining when he showed me his item, caressing it with his chubby cheeks and smiling. “He is so cute”. The sign was always with the “Come in” side on. Only when Matilde got him on his nerves he turned it to the do not disturb side.

How can I throw that little creature away? How can I think that leaving him in a garbage can will make me happier? I didn´t want to buy new stuff. I didn´t want to leave my mattress on a dump. I put the little cub in the washer, and now is inside a cardboard box anxiously waiting to be put on a door knob with the “Come in” side again. I’m removing dust and memories. It makes me happy.

Come in (Small)

#toystory5

Raggedy Ann (Small)

This doll was rescued from a box left by Matilde filled with stuffed animals and moths. Raggedy Ann didn’t get eaten, thankfully. She was made with love by Gramma Minnie and will make it back to the West coast of the US. When I took her clothes off to wash them, in her body was an embroidered heart that says “I love you”.
In honor of all grandmas and children inspired by Johnny Gruelle‘ s character.

#toystory6

Chilean Doll (Small)

This is another survivor of my daughter´s indifference, even though it made it to the box where the moths where happy. This doll was also given by my brother Matías and sister-in-law, Alejandra (Probably more by the latter than my brother 😜).
She is a genuine Chilean doll, dressed as a school girl with the uniform I wore 10 years of my life. When I undressed her to wash her clothes, I was amazed by the details. She has a perfect white blouse, and a dark blue sleeveless dress called “jumper”. To keep the uniform clean we wore a blue and white checkered apron. And in winter, a blue cardigan.
In the late 1960s during the presidency of Eduardo Frei Montalva, the mandatory universal uniform was established for private & public schools in Chile. It meant to save money to families and lessen the distinction between the have and have-not. I know it was a great help to my mom’s budget. She bought us very long jumpers and aprons, that while we were growing they got shorter and shorter. During my senior year, my apron only covered me up to my bellybutton. 🤣 (I did it a little bit to annoy the school administration but also because I thought it was pointless my parents bought me a new apron during my senior year.)
Even though I didn’t like the uniform, I enjoyed the fact that I could get it messy and I didn’t have to think what to wear during the school days. The mandatory rule ended in 1995, but many schools still use the uniform with some variations. Probably now they are more expensive than regular clothes but during my childhood, “street clothes” as we called the regular clothes, were expensive.
I will use this doll in my new school, to tell stories to children about Chile ❤️ (until Matilde reclaims her).

 

—To be continued. I have a couple of stories left before the container goes—

#SOL Tuesday

Day 30. Tiredness is a good feeling #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 30th

Only 2 days…the Slice of Story challenge is winding down, many people are on Spring break trying to squeeze the last minutes of relaxation to the max, slices are shorter and comments on my own blog are skimpier. It seems that everybody is tired. Some teachers are also preparing for April’s classroom Slice of Story challenge. Wow. That’s really commendable.

I am not the exception. I am tired but in a good way. It’s like when I go for a long bike ride and all my muscles ache and I am worn out to the point that I can’t rest. Suddenly, the whole body gives up and collapsescollapses . But feels good.

Now it´s almost 1 am of March 30th. I will have a busy day. My daughter of 23 years old decided to celebrate her birthday as she was 5. We went biking together to the supermarket, bought candies for the piñata, hot-dogs, ice-cream, and some goodies. I am making a hand made piñata remembering the ones I made when she and her brother were little. I just made a cake that tomorrow I have to put layers of strawberry jam and dulce de leche that I still need to find somewhere. And the frosting, and finishing the piñata. Oh, and we are going to raft the James river in the morning. And is almost 1 am. And I am tired, but it´s a good tiredness, the kind that leaves you feeling good..

Day 26. The days of your birthdays… #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 26th

Today is my daughter’s 23rd birthday and I am physically with her. I arrived yesterday at midnight. She picked me up, and said Aren’t you going to wish me happy birthday?

It has been a while since I don´t spend a birthday with her. The last time was when she turned 18th in high school and I went to her classroom during Physics class dressed up as the cat in the hat, and read Oh the places you will go, and the poem of Pablo Neruda Hoy que es el cumpleaños de mi hermana . My voice got broken with this poem, since our son was in the States, and I was missing him dearly.  While I was reading I glanced at her classmates, and saw a couple of girls drying her tears, and some of the boys looking at me in dismay. —Oh,oh— I thought Now I really messed things up.

But I have brought a cake, sodas and birthday hats. They were running around like kindergarten kids. Later my daughter told me that she felt a little bit embarrassed but her classmates could go through anything  for food and skipping Physics.

I don´t know exactly what are we going to do today. The year she left for college my celebrations of her birthday have been virtual.

When she turned 21, I made her a booklet that it did mortified her a little bit. I spent quite a few hours making a book for her in Story Jumper. I shared  the link in Facebook very excited. The link passed unnoticed that day and the followings. When you turn 21, the least you are worried about is your mom´s birthday wishes. I sensed that and the following Christmas I printed the book and mailed it to her place since we were going to spend winter holidays at her home. I had put too many hours on that book to get it passed ignored without glory or pity.

When the package arrived, she opened it nonchalantly without asking me, and decided to place the booklet on her chimney for all her friend to see how weird her mom was. When I arrived, she greeted me with a grin and told me What were you thinking ,ma? Who in the world would like to see a bloody baby (literally) on the cover of a book, let alone your boobs???

—Oh! Well, Merry Christmas, guati. That was your Christmas present—I answered.

In the cover of the book, I had put a a photo of  her arrival to this world, still tied to me by her umbilical cord. Inside the book was a photo of me breast feeding her. Ooops.

Despite everything, I love those photos. They remind me of motherhood in the early stages when everything is very physical and intense.

The days of your birthdays.png
My Story Jumper Story for Matilde´s 21st birthday

19 Happy 19th Birthday Matilde YouTube

When Matilde turned 19th, I made these ABCs on PowToon

 

 

Everything started when I made her a book called “The days of your birthdays” inspired by Cynthia Ryland’s Birthdays Presents (1991) when she turned 8.

My birthday’s stories are complete, now is her turn to continue them.

But that’s another slice.

 

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Day 21. The well tempered clavier #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 21st:

As usual, I have a plan for what I think I am going to write (or not) and circumstances drive me to a completely different path. I open my computer. It catches my attention today’s Google doodle. It is the first AI powered doodle in honor of Bach who was born March 21 (old style). We can honor him again on March 31st since that’s his birthday in our current Gregorian calendar. 

As soon as I saw Bach’s name, I remembered my mom. I decided to put the Well Tempered Clavier in Spotify in her honor. She loved this entire piece of art. I heard it many, many times during my teen age years, during my twenties and finally during the last 15 days I was with my mom before she died of cancer eight years ago.

As soon as the music started flooding the quietness of my house, a torrent of tears went down from my eyes through my cheeks. Some of them made it to my lips, and their saltiness caught me by surprise.

Every time my mom saw me sad, she invited me to lie down in her bed, and close my eyes. She put the well tempered clavier, and started giving me a soft massage on my back. Magically, I could leave out all my sorrow. I remember the music entering through my pores, invading my body in a way that gave me permission to cry and eventually reach the peace needed after a broken heart.

The last days I stayed next to my mom´s bed, I volunteered playing Bach. She nodded.  A sullen look and an arrhythmic breathing were part of her painful process of leaving this world. When doctors told her that it was just a question of days, she was battling hard, but tired of the waiting. In one point, she gave up and told me she just wanted to die. Still, she felt the need to hold back a little longer to give my dad some time to process the fact that her turn was first.

I pressed the play button.  The music floated tenderly in her room. Her frown started slowly to disappeared, her breathing  got steadier, the wrinkles on her face faded and a gentle smile invaded her face.

My mother always wanted me not to leave her side, and that day I was holding her hand after 22 years of not being with her. This time, I was the one who did not want her to leave my side.

Bach can make miracles, and bring my mom back to my side, blending each other melancholy on a mutual consolation. Every time I feel sad, but can´t get my feelings out, I play the tempered clavier. It´s infallible.

Bobereading
My mom loved to be a grandma.
ww Con la Pía en busca de su destino (Small)
At the airport in Santiago, Chile, when I left my family to go to the US with a Fulbright scholarship. My mom and I were the only ones wearing more colorful clothes. It was July. Winter in Chile. I found this photo on my dad´s computer. The photo has a caption and it says: “With Pia, in search of her destiny”.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 16. Birthday Twins #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 16th:

One was born almost in Spring, the other at the doorways of Autumn.

One was the awaited first child, the other the second of eleven siblings.

Both married.

One has seven children, the other three.

One lost her husband when she was 46, the other husband is still alive.

One lives in the North, one used to live in the South (according to Mercator)

One worked as a nurse, the other one volunteered at hospitals.

One didn’t meet me until I was 30, but since then she has always sent me handwritten birthdays cards.

The other gave me birthday presents every year, always telling me that they were just una tonterita while I  thought that they were awesome. It made me feel bad since I seldom give her something for her birthday.

Both sweet, strong and weak, firm and insecure hard workers.

Submissive on the surface, ferocious as lioness on the core. Aren’t we all like that?

One was born on a Wednesday, the other one on a Friday.

One was born the year of the Tiger, the other of the Dragon

One was born in a year were February had 28 days, the other on a leap year

One is turning 81, the other would have been 91.

29,585 days old, the other 33,237.

Ten years apart, living in so different worlds but somewhat similar.

I couldn’t find anyone famous born March 16, 1938. The other one was born the same day as Wakanohana Kanji I, Japanese sumo wrestler, the 45th Yokozuna.

One is my husband’s mom, the other my father’s oldest sister.

Happy birthday to my mother-in-law on Earth and my godmother on Heaven!

Day 15. Thursday’s sins #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 15th:

The seven cardinal, or deadly sins are famous among Spaniards’ Catholic tradition. To combat one against temptation from them are the seven virtues of chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.

I remember my dad knew them by heart, and every time we started a conversation about sins and virtues he recited:

Contra soberbia, humildad. [Against pride, humility]
Contra avaricia, generosidad.[Against greed, charity]
Contra lujuria, castidad.[Against lust, chastity]
Contra ira, paciencia.[Against wrath, patience]
Contra gula, templanza.(Against gluttony, temperance]
Contra envidia, caridad.[Against Envy, kindness]
Contra pereza, diligencia. [Against sloth, diligence]

In his late years, he always finished this litany with pride and a grin. As saying, I still remember…and probably being transported to the 1940s when he was sent to a somber Catholic boarding school for boys in a small town in Southern Chile. It was not a happy boarding school. Not like the one for rich and famous for sure. There he learned about the deadly sins and how to battle them. He was ten.

Spaniards have a great sense of humor and love to laugh about themselves. For this reason, they are more attracted to the deadly sins than their counterparts virtues.

Around two years ago, María, the leader of my writing workshop, pushed its members to their limits and invited them to write a book about the seven capital sins. Each of the nine members, including María, who is an amazing writer, wrote seven short stories, one for each sin. Yesterday at the public library of my town, was the launching of the book Los pecados de los jueves (Thursday´s sinsby Triskel ediciones.  It was presented by Manuel Valderrama Donaire, a local writer. I just acquired his last book called Egolatría (Egotism). Now, you have to read it told me my husband when I arrived proudly with the book, hehehe. Anyway, Manuel is a big fan of our workshop and every now and then shows up casually to listen to our stories and share some of his writings. It was captivating to hear him talking about the capital sins, and how they can be related to writers and literature. And of course, to each of the nine authors of Thursday’s Sins.

Lust (lujuria), who hasn’t committed it? Valderrama asked, and everybody smiled.

Gluttony (gula), Alexander Dumas and Jules Verne met while they were arguing about how to make a real Nantes Omelette. At least this is what the legend says.

Greed (avaricia) if you write to be rich you chose the wrong path.

Pereza (Sloth). Micro-stories, aphorisms are to certain degree when writers sin of sloth.

Wrath (Ira). According to Wikipedia, Filippo Argenti, a politician from 13th century Florence made it into the fifth circle of  Hell in the Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy as one of  the wrathful in the river Styx.

Envy (envidia). The rivalry between Cervantes and Lope de Vega is well known. Surprisingly, it seems that Lope de Vega was more envied by Cervantes than the other way around.

Pride (soberbia), all writers to certain degree have sinned of pride. Who doesn’t like to be read or have thought at least once that what they wrote is better than anybody else?


Some of my colleagues read their stories aloud, and shared their experiences in the beloved Thursday Writing Workshop. Thursday´s Sins is their second book. The first one was published in 2016 by Ulzama Digital, and is called La espuma de los jueves (Thursday´s Foam). Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this rare book by five of the authors that are still members of the Thursday writing workshop, and one former member who was present at the launching.

I joined this workshop last October, so I wasn´t part of the book. I hope I will in the next one, that María is already plotting.

 

 

 

Day 13. The art of hand throwing pots #sol19 #solsc

March 13th

slice-of-life_individualWe have a friend who is showing her pieces of ceramic art in a small collective exhibition in Seville. While talking at the opening, she told us she wanted to find raw ceramic pieces that can serve as mold to hold her fine work while she is creating it. My husband, Steve, volunteered immediately to take her on a day trip to La Rambla, a small town 25 miles south of Córdoba, best known for its gifted artisans and hand thrown and hand painted ceramics.

Steve has developed a small online business, GringoCool. He exports Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oils and hand-painted ceramics to the US market. With time he has developed a close relationship with many factory owners and their families. Whenever I tag alone on one of his business trips, I am in awe, not only on how gifted these people are, but also on how tight and family oriented they are.

So, on Monday we went with our friend Marjan on a search for the perfect mold. We visited two factories, Comino, and El Titi.

At Comino, we found two brothers, Luciano and Alejandro who run the business. Alejandro greets us while he tells us that he and his daughter Isabel are starting to train again to compete in triathlons this Spring. He has his bike in the middle of the warehouse and fires up his pottery wheel to show off, with a big smile. In, literally, less than five minutes, he produced four different shapes of pots. He made it look really easy but people that have used a wheel before know that it is not that simple. Alejandro started to work as a potter when he was 16, and brought his older brother, and then his daughter on board. On the painting floor, his dad, Juan, of around ninety years old, watches women painting. He was not a potter, but a goat herder. By the way he looked at my camera, I teased him that he is the boss.

In the meantime, Alejandro´s brother, Luciano is taking care of Marjan and her quest of finding molds. Eventually she decides to take two big pieces made of white clay. She is a little bit uncomfortable that Luciano insisted on giving them as a gift.

The factory´s name, Comino, is not after the spice, cumin, but the family last name.

With her booty placed safely in the trunk, we drove to El Titi, the other factory that specialized in terracotta ceramics and Steve thinks that might be better for the mold purposes of our friend.

At the front of the warehouse we are greeted by the very ¨Titi¨, the father who started the business, and his two sons, Rafa and Mateo. María José, the lead painter, and Titi´s daughter, is at the back of the factory painting with around six or seven other women. Titi proudly shows us the second floor they added to the warehouse to store all the orders they are producing. He also took seriously Marjan´s request and started diving into an ocean of terracotta pieces. In the meantime Steve is discussing new designs with Rafa and María José. I left them both with my camera and wandered around. Finally, I see Titi, frantically wrapping a big box for Marjan. My friend told me that not only he was wrapping it, but he was not going to charge her either. Plus, he put two of each of the two pieces she liked.

While Steve finishes his conversation at Titi´s, Marjan and I decided to walk along one of the main streets and look for more ceramic stores. We ended up at the exhibition floor of Titi´s where by our surprise, we found a lady with a baby in a stroller. She started to explain to us what they have and what were the prices. Since we were not going to buy anything, I asked her if she knew Steve. Estif! Por supuesto que lo conozco! Of course I know him! When I told her I was his wife she hugged me and kissed me, and told me she was Titi´s wife, and she was babysitting her granddaughter Ana Belén who was named after her. After talking cheerfully about her family and how happy they were with the new babies that have arrived lately, Steve showed up, and we say good-bye.

We finished our trip at a local restaurant  close to the warehouses. For 9 euros I ate “el menú del día”,  Salmorejo and a grilled trout plus coffee and a drink. In another slice I will tell you how to make a yummy salmorejo.

As my husband always says, small businesses are the backbone and fabric of our economy and society. We have not only to support them, but embrace and understand their intricate strength and beauty. That´s what will make us indivisible.

Our friend's piece of art
One of our friend Marjan´s pieces of art

 

The Comino Family

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Alejandro’s hands at work
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Steve discussing a new design with siblings María José and Rafa at El Titi factory.
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They just inaugurated this monument in honor of La Rambla as an artisan city.  In the back, you can see the exhibition store of El Titi where Ana, mother of Rafa, Mateo and María José, receives the occasional tourist. It was lunch time, so you can see her at the point where she just closed the store and is returning home while babysitting her grandaughter Ana Belén, whose mother, Ana’s daughter in-law, was working at the factory.
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I thought that this abandoned piece of ceramic was holding many, many slices of life stories

In this video you can see the amazing gift and skills of master potter Alejandro Comino, throwing clay on a pottery wheel and making art in less than three minutes.

If you are a potter yourself, you can enter Enbarro 2019, the international contest they have in La Rambla every year. The deadline is May 17.

Day 8. Today is not about resisting or celebrating… #SOL19 #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individualMarch 8th:

Today is not about resisting or celebrating. It’s about achieving, and getting our words out, and never, ever give up.

Since we were little, they told us to keep our inside voices, to be “feminine”, and not to raise our voices too much. I think it´s time to change that. We can do it politely, with care but do it. Your voice counts, your voice is valuable. “Your silence gives consent.”

Today I am marching for all the women that came before me and all the ones that are going to walk after me. I want them all free, alive, treated with respect and equity.

I am marching for my mom. I wished I understood earlier that many of her flaws were a way of hiding some of my dad´s. I wish she were here today, and we could march and talk about what means to be a woman. It took me too long to accept that I was one.

I am marching for my aunts Blanca, Marisi, Tere, Anamara, Cecilia, Ángela, Chabela, Lucy, Mabel, Elenita, Beatriz, Carmen and Uchi.

I am marching for all my women cousins that are too many to mention or count. For sure I will forget one.

I am marching for mi abuelita Käty and mi abuela Matilde, and my own daughter (who has the same name as my mom´s mom) and all her women friends who are somehow also part of me.

I am marching for all my women friends around the world, especially the one that I left behind in Chile and the US, and the ones that keep me going here in Spain.

I am marching for all my nieces: Chelsea, Francisca, Jenna, Claudia, Shelby, Sofi, Morgan, Luzma, Madison, Maca, Aubri, Nena, Kathryn, Georgia and Milena.

I am marching for my sister Isa, and my sisters-in law Laura, Vivi, MaryAnn, Alejandra, Marji, Colleen, Mariana, Quinn, and Wendy.

I am marching for my mother-in-law who raised seven children (one of them very stubborn hahaha) on a ranch when things were not easy and she was widowed at 46.

I am marching for all men who still think supporting women´s rights is against their masculinity and own rights. I hope they realize that We Should All Be Feminists.

I am marching for all the men who believe in us and march along with us.

I am marching in memory of my cousin Trini,  who was a strong, faithful, loyal, funny and resilient woman.  She was my best and closest friend in high school and college. We were so close that people thought that we were twins, and we were so proud of that. We fell in love with the same things, careers, and similar boys. We both were heart and hard headed women, and enjoy to laugh about ourselves. Trini raised six amazing human beings, and inspired thousands with the Montessori school Ciudadela in Santiago, Chile that she started in 1996, when she was pregnant of her fifth child, her daughter Ángela.

I am marching for her, and her daughters Mapi, Cata and Ángela that I bet they would have loved to march with Trini today. I am marching with Trini in my heart and in my skin because I am wearing a t-shirt that belonged to her. She was running too fast that left us all behind too soon.

Whom are you marching for?

#8M #IWD2019 #bewareoffastwomen #teextrañoprimadelalma

Trini and I
Trini and I, mellizas forever
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I am marching today wearing a T-shirt that belonged to my cousin Trini. #bewareoffastwomen

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Mati and I
Because I miss my daughter today and always
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“Quien calla otorga” – “Your silence gives consent.”

Las cosas que perdemos

Hace cinco días he perdido mis gafas para nadar en alguna parte de mi pueblo. A las nueve de la mañana fui a nadar a la piscina del polideportivo. Había ido en bici, por lo que llevaba las gafas colgando de una mano. Al salir de la piscina me fui a tomar desayuno a un bar y se alargó tanto la conversación que tuve que irme directamente a una cita de rutina que tenía al doctor con el bañador mojado y las mismas gafas junto con la toalla colgando al cuello. Al volver a mi casa, me di cuenta que ya no las tenía. Me dio mucha pena, pues eran unas gafas que me había comprado en un outlet en EEUU por 12 dólares y que al fin me quedaban bien, es decir, que no tenía que parar en cada brasada porque me entraba agua a los ojos. Debo confesar que nunca había gastado tanto en unas gafas, pues mientras mis hijos y mi marido siempre se compraban lo mejorcito, yo me contentaba con las gafas que ellos desechaban y bueno, siempre resultaban un poco mierdecillas. Por lo mismo, me sentía orgullosa de finalmente haber dedicado parte del presupuesto familiar a la compra egoista de unas gafas para mi. Además tenían un plus, el diseño del marco tenía la bandera de EEUU, cosa que me hacía sentir parte del equipo de natación estadounidense de los juegos olímpicos y estar nadando a la altura de Michel Phelps. o Katie Ledecky .

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Ahora que veo en TYR Sports que el precio de esta joyita es casi de US$30, más rabia me da

Repasé todas mis vueltas en bicicleta desde las nueve de la mañana, pregunté en el bar donde desayuné, y en el ambulatorio y dejé encargado en la piscina a los monitores que si veían a un seudo Michel Phelps por las inmediaciones, lo interrogaran. En fin, en el bar me miraron con cara de que estaban escondiendo las gafas debajo del mesón, en el ambulatorio el doctor que me atendió me dijo que el ponía en venta todo lo que dejaban sus pacientes en su consulta y los monitores, cuando les dije cómo eran las gafas, me dijeron que si eran “chulas”, me olvidara de ellas.

Volví a la casa muy desalentada. Cuando estaba abriendo la puerta de entrada se me vino a la cabeza el pensamiento recurrente que tengo cada vez que pierdo algo, que es un vivo deseo que me gustaría que se me cumpliera cuando me muera. Una vez se lo comenté a mi familia y consideraron que yo le pedía muy poco a la muerte. Pero no sé por qué, a mi me gustaría, en el momento de mi muerte, que me pasaran una película no de mi vida, ni de lo que hice o dejé de hacer, sino más bien de dónde fueron a parar todas las cosas que se me han perdido o, para asumir mi responsabilidad, que he perdido y que recuerdo vívidamente su pérdida.

¿Dónde fueron a parar los múltiples aritos que he perdido y han hecho que en los últimos cinco años haya decidido ponerme aros diferentes en cada oreja y que la gente me mire  y me diga, perdona, se te ha perdido un aro? ¿O que la ayudante del laboratorio de ciencias del cole donde trabajaba, cuando le dije que me gustaba usar aritos diferentes, me dijera que era muy rara? Esta última observación francamente me hizo pensar en lo aburrida que debía ser la vida de esta persona, si me encontraba rara por esta nimiedad cuando en la calle circula gente con unos tatuajes enormes, aretes gigantes en los labios, la lengua, los pezones y la nariz y vestimenta muchísimo más estrafalaria que la mía.

Una de mis cuñadas muy queridas siempre me ha regalado aritos de gran artesanía y de lugares donde ella ha vivido. Uno de estos pares fueron unos aritos de la República Checa. Era julio del 2009 e íbamos a San Francisco al consulado español, para conseguir nuestras visas para mudarnos a España. A mi se me perdió uno de los aros checos en nuestro coche, un Nissan Pathfinder rojo, durante este trajecto. Sé que fue adentro del coche durante el viaje, quizás en una de las paradas a repostar o comprarnos un balde de coca-cola o café para seguir conduciendo. No hubo caso que revisáramos los asientos y el suelo mil y una vez; el aro nunca fue encontrado. En recuerdo de esta pérdida que me recordaba tanto a mi cuñada, nunca me saqué a su pareja de la oreja, hasta hace unos meses, en que no sé dónde ni cómo lo he perdido. Cuando mi cuñada supo que ya no tenía uno de los aros, me regaló otro par, también muy bonito, de una piedra y técnica peculiar de Georgia, el país donde estaba viviendo el 2011 y dónde habíamos ido a pasar la Navidad. Uno de esos aros lo perdí al año siguiente, en la habitación en la que alojábamos en la casa de mi otra cuñada cerca de Seattle. Recuerdo que también pusimos todo patas arriba, desarmamos la cama y buscamos en la alfombra sin éxito. Decidí decirle a mi cuñada que desistiera de regalarme aros, pues era un caso perdido.

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Sacarse un selfie de un aro es muy difícil

El año pasado, otra de mis cuñadas que es profesora de arte y muy artista, al oir estas historias y saber que yo siempre llevaba aros desparejados, me regaló uno suelto hecho por ella y que nunca había tenido pareja, por lo que a las dos nos pareció la combinación perfecta. Ahora lo llevo puesto. Ya llevo un año sin sacármelo ni perderlo, pues ese es el truco y la condición: solo puedo usar aritos que no necesite cambiarme ni sacarme nunca, ni siquiera en la ducha, la piscina o en la práctica de algún deporte. Creo que solamente me he sacado los aros cuando he presentado una obra de teatro o me lo ha pedido mi propia instructora de teatro, o hace poco yo misma, cuando aprendía a hacer surf, pues después de haberme doblado el dedo meñique con la tabla, no me pareció muy alentador circular con un lóbulo sangrante.

 

 

Hace muchísimo tiempo, ya casi 25 años, cuando Steve y yo vivíamos recién casados en Arlington, Virginia, decidimos ofrecernos de voluntarios para ir en kayak por el río Potomac a limpiar parte de sus riberas. La verdad es que quedé tan impresionada de la cantidad de pelotas de tenis que encontramos que le dije a Steve que desde ese momento ya sabía adónde iban a parar todas las pelotas del mundo. Recuerdo que nos sacamos con el grupo una foto con una montaña de basura consistente en su mayoría en un montón de neumáticos, desechos varios y las mentadas pelotas de tenis. Veinte años después quise replicar esa iniciativa en el cole donde trabajaba, para que los estudiantes crearan consciencia de la cantidad de porquerías que producíamos, a través de una excursión a las playas de la costa de la luz en España, donde recogeríamos basura en las playas. Quedé impresionada de la poca aceptación que tuvo mi iniciativa entre alguno de los alumnos. Yo creía que todos iban a saltar de alegría al saber que estaban cooperando con un granito de arena casi literal a hacer de nuestro planeta y espacio un lugar menos sucio.

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Una foto muy similar a ésta nos sacamos en 1994, cuando fuimos a limpiar el río Potomac con Steve y nuestros vecinos de Arlington, Seth y Julie. ¿Qué será de ellos? Esta foto, sin embargo, es de una limpieza en kayak que organizó el Northern Virginia Conservation Trust en el arroyo de Hunting  en septiembre 2017

¿Y no les pasa, cuando recogen la ropa después de lavarla, y se dan cuenta que tienen millones de calcetines perdidos, solitarios incapaces de reunirse con su pareja, y ustedes son incapaces a resignarse a tirarlos a la basura? A mi me ocurre todo el tiempo. En alguna ocasión, ante la alternativa de contaminar aún más, se los di a mi hija para que los convirtiera en unos títeres muy tiernos.  Hay calcetines que guardo con la esperanza de encontrar su pareja veinte años después, cuando ya mis hijos se han ido de la casa y el calcetín no les cabría ni en el dedo gordo del pie. ¿Y no les gustaría saber dónde se han ido? A mi si, me encantaría que estuvieran incluídos en la película que me va a mostrar cuando me esté muriendo una directora como la Sofía Coppola, quien me explicará con imagenes contundentes el paradero de estos objetos pertinaces.

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Mis calcetines huachos

Como todas las películas buenas y marketeras tienen segundas partes, también me gustaría saber cómo han llegado a mi poder chalecos, camisetas, toallas y algunos adminículos de cocina que yo no recuerdo haber comprado o que me los hayan regalado.

Mi vida es una película constante. Creo que empezaré una serie y se la venderé a HBO.

PD: Steve quiere que añada dónde se van las tapas de las ruedas de nuestro auto, que según los amigos de Vincent, son de cani.