My fairy tale nightmare (Part 1. The nightmare) #SOL Tuesday

Inspired by writer, teacher and blogger, Fran Hailey, this piece is written by four legged guest blogger, Buck. Since I am again on a Tuesday #Sol at an airport, I am grateful that Buck stepped in. He got a little carried away, and his tale has to continue next week, otherwise it won’t make it on Tuesday and I won’t make my plane to Chile ūüėČ


Dear readers,

I am so happy to share my experiences of a globetrotter with the audience of my dear owner, even though, a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t think of her as she was too dear to me. Let you explain things as they should be. From the beginning.

I was happily ever after on the lush sunny days of my Andalusian life when all of the sudden my life turned upside down. I was put in jail or that’s what I thought. My owner started to lured me with bits of food and a comfy red padded mat on what I learned later, it was my kennel. Looks like a jail to me anyway, despite the fact that it was taped colorfully and has my name on it. My owner had read a blog post about Luke, a famous wiener dog, that travels all over the world and how his owners prepare his own jail so he isn’t left behind.All those prearrangements didn’t make any sense to me until we arrived to the Barajas airport in Madrid. I produced more paper work than a human, even though, sadly, I learned later, I am easier to enter in the US than a human. Me and Pia held the check in line for like an hour. They peeked at me, shuffled the papers where it says I was in good health, checked the size of my kennel, making sure I can turn and roll and do all sort of tricks that I couldn’t even think of doing. It was hot, noisy and scary. After that, Pia has to carry me by hand with no wheels or a cart for almost a kilometer. We have to pass security twice. I really like that part because I was taken out and held by Pia and all the security people lost their mean look and started admiring my big smile. But my happiness lasted only for two seconds. After security checks I was returned rudely into my container and a huge guy carried me and put me on a truck. I peeked from the bars as Pia waved goodbye and filmed my departure to hell. I was the only living object on that truck. As a matter of fact, I was alone. The ride was not so bad. I got to see a little bit of the airport since the driver drove first to the wrong airplane or maybe he needed to go to the bathroom. The breeze felt good also. The smell and noise not that much. As we approached the airplane, the big guy tied my kennel with those sturdy plastic strips that you cannot open again. I was in dismay. What was happening? Where I was going? What was going to happen to me? Pia was not in sight, and I was at the mercy of these strong people who were accommodating me next to a bicycle, a couple of golf clubs and something that looked like a big instrument and a black trunk. They closed the door and I heard some motors starting. The rest felt like if I were a piece of dirt inside a vacuum cleaner. What an horrific sound, and all that movement. I was grateful that the plastic strips were securely attached to the bars. I tried to buried myself on my blanket to avoid reality. But it was a mixture of waves of heat and cold air that didn’t let me settle. The thirst was killing me. After two hours of pure hell, they opened the vacuum cleaner and I felt relief and joy. An unknown woman yelled something in a language I couldn’t understand. They gave me a little bit of water through the bars.

That’s it! I was under the spell of the witch of Hansel and Gretel. That’s the language they were speaking, after all. What didn’t make sense is that they didn’t give me anything to eat. Wasn’t the idea that the witch wanted to fatten Hansel and Gretel? Well, not me. I was doommed to live with two droplets of water for 24 hours.

They transferred me to a cart were they buried me with suitcases and boxes of all sizes and shapes. Mostly odd shapes and somehow heavier than me. I tried to smile but my face was confronted as if a door was slammed in front of it. Again I was put in a vacuum cleaner. This time a wider one and for more than 10 hours! At the end, I didn’t even remember that my name was Buck. They took my blanket and tied it to the outside handle. Probably they thought I could hang myself with it. They were not too far from reality . I lost the thrive, my life was miserable and my tummy was starting to grumble. (To be continued).When things were still somehow ok.Me, being placed among odd and non-living things

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.



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‚ÄĒtoy 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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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. C√≥mo te quiero, guati ‚̧ԳŹūüźēūüĆéūü§Ļ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ¬†#dollstory1


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 raz√≥n. ¬°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‚ÄĒ as Mati and Vincent call her affectionately‚ÄĒ 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 mu√Īeca” (The doll) using my daughter¬īs dislike for dolls¬† and my dad¬īs observation as starting and ending points respectively.

Mati y doll.jpeg


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.


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¬īt take anything”, “follow Marie Kondo¬īs 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¬īs style advise, touched the knob of the door to open Vincent¬īs 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¬īt want to buy new stuff. I didn¬īt 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)


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.


Chilean Doll (Small)

This is another survivor of my daughter¬īs indifference, even though it made it to the box where the moths where happy. This doll was also given by my brother Mat√≠as and sister-in-law, Alejandra (Probably more by the latter than my brother ūüėú).
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. ūü§£ (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 ‚̧ԳŹ (until Matilde reclaims her).


‚ÄĒTo be continued. I have a couple of stories left before the container goes‚ÄĒ

#SOL Tuesday

Good news Tuesday…Yes! part 2 #sol Tuesday

On March 5th, I wrote a slice of life story about my son’s writing homework when he was in 1st grade. I don’t want to repeat myself but just add facts I didn’t¬† have when I wrote the story by memory in Spain. Also I want to bring justice to Vincent’s teacher. It’s so true that to raise a child it takes a village.


I am in Oregon right now. Sitting on a terrace chair in front of my computer writing in the only house we can called ours. The view from the dining room is amazing and brings me back so many and intense stories. I grew up surrounded by mountains. I miss them when they are not close to me. I love this house, I love this area. We left it almost ten years ago and now we want to conquer it back. If only I can get a job…

When we left to Spain, we had two containers full of boxes and books. One contained boxes labeled To storage in the USA, the other To Spain. The former with all the things¬† we couldn’t bring across the ocean in the other container.

Last weekend, my son visited me from Montana. He was as in awe as I was. He was 11 when we left. Looking at the place and the area with adult eyes got him.¬† We decided to enter in the To storage in the USA container that sits in one corner of our property. Entering in it was like entering in a time capsule. By the way we stored things it looked like we had left in a hurry and started putting together in the same box whatever we had at hand. One of the things that we found was my son’s school planner of 2004, when he was in 1st grade. It was a really neat idea of having kids practice their handwriting at the same time of a way of communicating with parents. On the left side of the planner Vincent wrote everyday a sentence that summarized or highlighted something that the class did that day. We needed to initial it every time. My husband and I remember starting great conversations with our son thanks to just that sentence. It was such a handy way of knowing what happen in school instead of receiving a dull “good”¬†as an answer when we asked how was school today?

On the right side of the planner, Vincent had to write the words of the week, and it was space for us to write a message to the teacher and communicate with her.

When we started looking at the planner, Vincent was first of all amazed of all the writing and communication that was on it. When he flipped the pages, and read messages that either me or his dad wrote

Vincent will ride the bus today… Vincent will leave early today because he has a doctor’s appointment…, Vincent will stay in the after school program today…Vincent misplaced his reading log and is very worried…

he asked me: Did the teacher has to do this, check and write back in all children’s planners every day?

Yes! I know. It’s a lot of work ‚ÄĒ I answered.¬†But so worth it. At least in our case.

And here it was. The explanation of the Tuesday News writing assignment and how we solved with Vincent the fact he needed to write every Tuesday and Thursday.¬† I knew Ms. Coleman’s words were sacred for Vincent. Not so much mine.

Written in pencil:


Dear Ms. Coleman, We received the homework packet. What’s not clear to Vincent or myself is what does he has to do when says as an assignment “Good news writing…(Tue & Thurs). I would really appreciate it if you could clarify that to Vincent (and maybe myself?) ūüôā Thanks, Pia (Vincent’s mom)

And then in green marker

Sure. I told the kids on Monday that we would practice it on Tuesday. It should be clear to him now. It is basically¬†a journal (about anything he wants¬†to write about…soccer, his family, etc.. He could also write a story, or poems, or a play. On Friday he will choose one of his journal entries to share with the class. Hope this helps!

I knew that it was something that I needed to keep. I couldn’t throw away all the stories that Vincent’s first grade planner contained, and all the good and hard work that all of us did.

Ms. Coleman, wherever you are, thank you for your time, sense of humor, patience, and help in raising such an amazing human being as Vincent.


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¬īt 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 cumplea√Īos 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. ‚ÄĒOh,oh‚ÄĒ¬†I thought‚ÄĒ¬†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¬īt 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¬īs 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???

‚ÄĒOh! Well, Merry Christmas, guati. That was your Christmas present‚ÄĒI 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¬īs 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 19. In between jails : a free association of words #sol19 #solsc


March 19th

Yesterday, I went to a meeting in Sevilla. On my way back I decided to check a spot I read it used to be a jail until the XIX century. Miguel de Cervantes was in prison there between September and December of 1597. And of course, Sevilla claims that his stay in there was the beginning of “El Quijote“. The jail was in the intersection of Sierpes (main pedestrian street downtown Sevilla) and a small street called Entre c√°rceles¬†[In between jails]. I don’t know why that name struck me. I imagined myself walking along the busy street of XVI century Sevilla, and telling people I live between two jails: La C√°rcel Real de Sevilla and La Real Audiencia. It was 7:30 pm when I was imagining this. The hustling and bustling of the city helped my day dreaming. Buildings are now just tourist shops selling us the past . There’s even a little monument that commemorate Cervantes’ stay at the C√°rcel Real de Sevilla. Like he went to an Airbnb for a couple of nights. Ironically, now the building is a bank, the 21st century people’s jail.

By 1597, Cervantes was a tax collector and he gave us the honor of staying at this prison since one of his helpers committed a mistake, and appeared like Cervantes was keeping some of the money for himself. A little vendetta, perhaps?

Today I went biking to my chiropractor and on the way back I found a graffiti with the word “word“. It made me think of Cervantes again, and writers. It seems that in idle times is when you’re more productive. Or maybe when you’re in between jails?

On that same ride I listened to the short YA novel “Long way down” by Jason Reynolds. It was read by the author which made it more powerful. Listening to his comments at the end of the book made me think about injustice, and how many times the wrong people are in detention centers.

Our son started sending us messages complaining that he needed to pay 1,000 dollars in taxes on 237 dollars of taxable income. Something doesn’t square up. He worked the summer to pay for college. Maybe like Cervantes, his assistant, the who knows what software, is committing a mistake, we hope.

Finally, I was trapped in the car for 5 hours since we went to pick up our niece from Montana who is visiting for Spring break. Just like Jason Reynold’s story, ‚ÄĒmuch more superficial though‚ÄĒ, it was a long way down to go to M√°laga and back to Sevilla.

Entre Carceles and Sierpes Streets
Cervantes’ monument on Entrec√°rceles street in front of the jail
Graffiti next to the Guadalquivir river
Now there’s a bar where the police guards stayed at the prison
The former Real C√°rcel de Sevilla

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¬īs 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¬īs 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. Mar√≠a Jos√©, the lead painter, and Titi¬īs 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¬īs request and started diving into an ocean of terracotta pieces. In the meantime Steve is discussing new designs with Rafa and Mar√≠a Jos√©. 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¬īs, 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¬īs 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¬īs wife, and she was babysitting her granddaughter Ana Bel√©n 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 men√ļ del d√≠a”,¬† 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¬īs what will make us indivisible.

Our friend's piece of art
One of our friend Marjan¬īs 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 Mar√≠a Jos√©, 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 Bel√©n, 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 3. Double challenge…#SOL19 #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individualMarch 3rd:

In the Alliende family we have a motto: “Why make things easy when you can make them more difficult“, which is by the way,¬† the complete opposite¬† of the McCann family motto (the McCanns are my husband’s family). So you can imagine the type of advise my kids have received so far.

Today it was too beautiful to stay indoors, and knowing myself, I knew if I fire up the computer, I was going to spend the entire day in front of it. Besides, it is warmer outside my house than inside. I decided to use my handwriting and sketching skills (if you can call them skills), and have an analog slice for today. The only condition that I put on myself was that I couldn’t use anything but my brain and hands. No googling words to double check their spelling or search for synonyms. Lessons learned: surrounded and not an hesitant scratchy sourrended,¬† awkward, not akward, whether and not wether,¬† suspiciously and not suspisiously. Should have I used skip or skipped? What other word can I use instead of coloring? And probably a lot more. It¬†was harder than I thought, but I did it!

PS: My phone, my computer and the internet are making my brain really lazy. I should write more often without them.

Day 3_1Day 3_2

The book of tears – El libro de l√°grimas

Para leer una versi√≥n en espa√Īol ir a La¬†Intervencionista del Guadalquivir

screenshot_20180818-130344-e1534591905389.pngLibro de l√°grimas” (Anaya, 2002) beautiful book by Per√© Ginard, written like a long poem and illustrated by the author. It has so many possibilities. Improv ideas, working with ESL kids, or students who are learning Spanish, working with anybody on emotions.

There are all sort of tears, but all of them are salty, like if we had a small little ocean inside us.

We all have tears. Some people have them when they say goodbye, or are lost, or scared, or lost something, or sneeze, or have tummy ache, or the sun is too bright or they can’t breathe. Some tears are because we’re happy or laughing, or they’re just crocodile tears…
My eyes are constantly wet because they are extremely dry, and also because I cry a lot. My tears are fat, only visible to my own soul; they mostly show up in silence when I remember; when I think they cannot touch my kids; and they don’t disappear if I can’t reach a napkin or the tip of my sleeve, because I am naked. And it’s then, when they become part of my skin, my rough cheek or my excess sodium intake. I should have high blood pressure but I don’t.

What type of tears do you have?

Las cosas que perdemos

Hace cinco d√≠as he perdido mis gafas para nadar en alguna parte de mi pueblo. A las nueve de la ma√Īana fui a nadar a la piscina del polideportivo. Hab√≠a 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 alarg√≥ tanto la conversaci√≥n que tuve que irme directamente a una cita de rutina que ten√≠a al doctor con el ba√Īador mojado y las mismas gafas junto con la toalla colgando al cuello. Al volver a mi casa, me di cuenta que ya no las ten√≠a. Me dio mucha pena, pues eran unas gafas que me hab√≠a comprado en un outlet en EEUU por 12 d√≥lares y que al fin me quedaban bien, es decir, que no ten√≠a que parar en cada brasada porque me entraba agua a los ojos. Debo confesar que nunca hab√≠a 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 sent√≠a orgullosa de finalmente haber dedicado parte del presupuesto familiar a la compra egoista de unas gafas para mi. Adem√°s ten√≠an un plus, el dise√Īo del marco ten√≠a la bandera de EEUU, cosa que me hac√≠a sentir parte del equipo de nataci√≥n estadounidense de los juegos ol√≠mpicos y estar nadando a la altura de Michel Phelps. o Katie Ledecky¬†.

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

Repas√© todas mis vueltas en bicicleta desde las nueve de la ma√Īana, pregunt√© en el bar donde desayun√©, y en el ambulatorio y dej√© encargado en la piscina a los monitores que si ve√≠an 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 mes√≥n, en el ambulatorio el doctor que me atendi√≥ me dijo que el pon√≠a en venta todo lo que dejaban sus pacientes en su consulta y los monitores, cuando les dije c√≥mo 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.

¬ŅD√≥nde fueron a parar los m√ļltiples aritos que he perdido y han hecho que en los √ļltimos cinco a√Īos haya decidido ponerme aros diferentes en cada oreja y que la gente me mire¬† y me diga, perdona, se te ha perdido un aro? ¬ŅO 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 √ļltima observaci√≥n francamente me hizo pensar en lo aburrida que deb√≠a 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 much√≠simo m√°s estrafalaria que la m√≠a.

Una de mis cu√Īadas muy queridas siempre me ha regalado aritos de gran artesan√≠a y de lugares donde ella ha vivido. Uno de estos pares fueron unos aritos de la Rep√ļblica Checa. Era julio del 2009 e √≠bamos a San Francisco al consulado espa√Īol, para conseguir nuestras visas para mudarnos a Espa√Īa. A mi se me perdi√≥ uno de los aros checos en nuestro coche, un Nissan Pathfinder rojo, durante este trajecto. S√© que fue adentro del coche durante el viaje, quiz√°s en una de las paradas a repostar o comprarnos un balde de coca-cola o caf√© para seguir conduciendo. No hubo caso que revis√°ramos los asientos y el suelo mil y una vez; el aro nunca fue encontrado. En recuerdo de esta p√©rdida que me recordaba tanto a mi cu√Īada, nunca me saqu√© a su pareja de la oreja, hasta hace unos meses, en que no s√© d√≥nde ni c√≥mo lo he perdido. Cuando mi cu√Īada supo que ya no ten√≠a uno de los aros, me regal√≥ otro par, tambi√©n muy bonito, de una piedra y t√©cnica peculiar de Georgia, el pa√≠s donde estaba viviendo el 2011 y d√≥nde hab√≠amos ido a pasar la Navidad. Uno de esos aros lo perd√≠ al a√Īo siguiente, en la habitaci√≥n en la que aloj√°bamos en la casa de mi otra cu√Īada cerca de Seattle. Recuerdo que tambi√©n pusimos todo patas arriba, desarmamos la cama y buscamos en la alfombra sin √©xito. Decid√≠ decirle a mi cu√Īada que desistiera de regalarme aros, pues era un caso perdido.

Sacarse un selfie de un aro es muy difícil

El a√Īo pasado, otra de mis cu√Īadas que es profesora de arte y muy artista, al oir estas historias y saber que yo siempre llevaba aros desparejados, me regal√≥ uno suelto hecho por ella y que nunca hab√≠a tenido pareja, por lo que a las dos nos pareci√≥ la combinaci√≥n perfecta. Ahora lo llevo puesto. Ya llevo un a√Īo sin sac√°rmelo ni perderlo, pues ese es el truco y la condici√≥n: solo puedo usar aritos que no necesite cambiarme ni sacarme nunca, ni siquiera en la ducha, la piscina o en la pr√°ctica de alg√ļn 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 aprend√≠a a hacer surf, pues despu√©s de haberme doblado el dedo me√Īique con la tabla, no me pareci√≥ muy alentador circular con un l√≥bulo sangrante.



Hace much√≠simo tiempo, ya casi 25 a√Īos, cuando Steve y yo viv√≠amos reci√©n casados en Arlington, Virginia, decidimos ofrecernos de voluntarios para ir en kayak por el r√≠o Potomac a limpiar parte de sus riberas. La verdad es que qued√© tan impresionada de la cantidad de pelotas de tenis que encontramos que le dije a Steve que desde ese momento ya sab√≠a ad√≥nde iban a parar todas las pelotas del mundo. Recuerdo que nos sacamos con el grupo una foto con una monta√Īa de basura consistente en su mayor√≠a en un mont√≥n de neum√°ticos, desechos varios y las mentadas pelotas de tenis. Veinte a√Īos despu√©s quise replicar esa iniciativa en el cole donde trabajaba, para que los estudiantes crearan consciencia de la cantidad de porquer√≠as que produc√≠amos, a trav√©s de una excursi√≥n a las playas de la costa de la luz en Espa√Īa, donde recoger√≠amos basura en las playas. Qued√© impresionada de la poca aceptaci√≥n que tuvo mi iniciativa entre alguno de los alumnos. Yo cre√≠a que todos iban a saltar de alegr√≠a al saber que estaban cooperando con un granito de arena casi literal a hacer de nuestro planeta y espacio un lugar menos sucio.

Una foto muy similar a √©sta nos sacamos en 1994, cuando fuimos a limpiar el r√≠o Potomac con Steve y nuestros vecinos de Arlington, Seth y Julie. ¬ŅQu√© ser√° de ellos? Esta foto, sin embargo, es de una limpieza en kayak que organiz√≥ el Northern Virginia Conservation Trust en el arroyo de Hunting¬† en septiembre 2017

¬ŅY no les pasa, cuando recogen la ropa despu√©s 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 ocasi√≥n, ante la alternativa de contaminar a√ļn m√°s, se los di a mi hija para que los convirtiera en unos t√≠teres muy tiernos.¬† Hay calcetines que guardo con la esperanza de encontrar su pareja veinte a√Īos despu√©s, cuando ya mis hijos se han ido de la casa y el calcet√≠n no les cabr√≠a ni en el dedo gordo del pie. ¬ŅY no les gustar√≠a saber d√≥nde se han ido? A mi si, me encantar√≠a que estuvieran inclu√≠dos en la pel√≠cula que me va a mostrar cuando me est√© muriendo una directora como la Sof√≠a Coppola, quien me explicar√° 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 a√Īada d√≥nde se van las tapas de las ruedas de nuestro auto, que seg√ļn los amigos de Vincent, son de cani.