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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Day 25. Proud mamá on the road again… #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individual

March 25th

In an hour I am taking off to the States. I am so excited. I will be arriving for my daughter’s 23rd birthday. I haven’t celebrated a birthday with her since she turned 18 in 2014, when she graduated from high school in Spain. This year she will be graduating from VCU. I am so proud of her. Double mayor, Economics and Political Science, and a minor in Arabic. On top of that, and I think for this she should receive a huge certificate, she is graduating with no debt, and very little help from us. She worked relentless hours one year prior to college and during all her four college years. Some weeks she was working 30 hours besides her classes and study. There are no words that can reflect how proud I am of her.

MyStar
Matilde, you are my Star

Mati

Strong since day one

M&V
Mama’s pride

Day 23. Brevity is the soul of wit #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 23rd

Sometimes I think I am witty, but as my daughter always tells me, it’s the sort of wit that only I can understand.

I want to talk about my friend and author Manuel Valderrama Donaire, that I have mentioned already in another slice of life. He is a fan of our writer’s workshop and once in a while he pops in to see how we are doing and shares his latest work in progress. It’s always fun to hear what he has to say. He is an avid reader and knows a lot about literature and history. A good writer has to be a good reader, he says. He has a radio show called the irreverent reader, but he is also an irreverent writer.

Three years ago, I read one of his three novels, Uno de los vuestros (PeZsapo, 2016), a very witty and sarcastic short novel where he touches on the Spanish 21st century economic crisis and corruption in a humorous way. Through the life of Juan Anselmo, the protagonist, Manuel calls into question the entire society, and the things that people can do to be what is considered ¨successful and  powerful.” I went to the launching of this book at the public library of my town, where I met Manuel for the first time and learned that we live very close by.

Despite living in the same small town, I never saw Manuel again until I joined the writer’s workshop last October. Then I realized he has published a third and more ambitious novel, Egolatría [Egotism]. I kept thinking I should read it since I was seeing him more often. I was being cheap, and decided to check his book out at the public library. I already had so many books to read that never opened it. Then I thought, I should buy the book and support local authors. He is the type of writer that I want to keep publishing.

I pushed away the temptation of grabbing my phone and getting the novel in one click, and probably cheaper, via Amazon. Instead, at the beginning of March, I stopped by at the local bookstore, had a nice chat with the owner, and bought the last copy. It felt good. I saw Manuel two times after my purchase. I knocked my head on the wall for not having the book with me, so he can sign it.

Last Thursday, I had the hunch he was going to join us at our workshop, so I put the book in my already full backpack. And voilá, when I entered in the room, there he was! I got the autograph! The book is now in my suitcase, and will fly with me to the States. When I finish it, I promise I will write about it.

Manuel also fed my own “egotism” by writing a very nice dedication on the title page. I feel flattered and humbled at the same time, and so inspired. Now I need to write a novel since I can´t be brief. I hope I keep my wit, even if I am the only one that understands it.

A mi compañera escritor y amiga, Pía, que lleva el metrónomo de una novelista insertada en su prosa. Mil gracias y un besazo, Manuel VD” [To my fellow writer and friend, Pia, who carries the metronome of a novelist inserted in her prose. A thousand thanks and a big kiss, Manuel VD]

Day 22. Good morning, I am Pia´s phone here writing #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individual

March 22nd

María, our beautiful and young leader* at our Thursday’s Writing Workshop gave us a prompt for the coming week, and I thought I should try to write a slice of life from it. She talks about the importance of choosing the narrator of a story. It’s the first choice a writer needs to make when writing down the first sentence on the blank page. Who will tell the story? The point of view of the narrator will be our point of view as readers. It´s very different if I am the one that tells the story, as if it´s an omniscient narrator, or a secondary character. How many times we have seen the story of the three little pigs told from the point of view of the Wolf or one particular pig? Last week our prompt was to write about Little Red Riding Hood in a news form; it could be an interview, a chronicle, a letter to the editor, a critic´s view, etc. I wrote a letter to the editor written by the very own Little Red Riding Hood defending her women´s rights. But that´s another slice.

This week´s prompt is to write a story taking our cell phones as the narrator. Yes, our mobile phone will narrate the story of the protagonist. María challenges us by asking “Who does know us better than our phone? How many things do we have in our phones that we don´t share with anybody?”

*that’s the way Maria jokingly said we should always address her, and I am a very obedient student.


So, here is my slice of life told by my phone.

Good morning. I am a Moto 5g old generation. I landed in Pia´s hands two years ago when her brother saw how slow was her previous phone, while they were travelling together in Croatia. As soon as the trip was over, he got on Amazon, and shipped her moi. She was thrilled. She could store so many photos, and also get apps she couldn´t even imagine getting before. She loved me immediately.

I always sleep plugged in next to her night table, despite the horror stories about cell phones radiation, and disruptions in human quality of sleep. Sometimes she lays me down on the floor, on top of a book. Today, I woke her up with my alarm at 6:00 am. I don´t know why because she snoozes me until 6:45 am and sometimes even later. This time I can´t blame her. Last night she had put me to sleep at 1 am.

As soon as she opens her eyes she looks for her glasses and glances at me. If nothings is popping up on the screen, she just go to the bathroom and gets ready for the day. She knows that as soon as I get in her hands, it´s difficult to let me go. I am so attractive.

Last year, she turned all my apps notifications off since they were distracting her too much from real work and real life. At least this is what she tells herself. All but her children´s. She doesn´t like to miss anything about them. They have a busy life in college, and the time differences between Europe and the US don´t help much. Her children´s Whatsapp messages show on my screen silently even when either she or I or both are asleep. It´s pretty annoying but she loves it. Or does she need them?

Today I was proud I helped her American niece to get a hold of Pia via whatsapp, since she was a little confused about what train to take to return to Sevilla from Cádiz.

Later on the day she figured out her son is enjoying his Spring break skiing with his friends. His story on Instagram is amazing. I sent her a notification that Vincent uploaded a new story. What a beautiful day for skiing it was. She marveled at the short video and sent messages back and forth to her son. In the meantime, her daughter sent her text messages over Voxer which is really strange because nobody texts in Voxer. I know it is because she is in class, and can´t talk.

When Pia is in front of the computer working, she doesn´t use me too much. She keeps forgetting me in odd places, and her husband has to call me several times just to figure out I was left in the bathroom, the kitchen, underneath the clean laundry, or sometimes even in her own bra. The latter happen when she doesn´t have pockets or purse where she can carry me. Since last year though, when she gets out she always put me on a little sweaty fanny bag she carries everywhere. I am crammed in with a white Chinese battery, and her leather change purse also packed with IDs, coins, receipts, and 5 or 10 euro bills.

Lately, she has gotten into the habits of putting me an earphone cord to listen to audio books. Today she spent an unusual amount of time searching for books in the three different digital book apps that I have on myself. One from Spain, one from Chile and one from the US. That way she barely needs to buy books. Also, I know she is taking off soon to the US (I have her flight on her Google calendar app) and she is getting ready for having interesting reading material on the plane and her stay in Virginia and Oregon. The only problem is that in Overdrive some of the most recent books are all borrowed and the waiting list is amazing. There are 0 copies of 20 available of Educated by Tara Westover. She placed the hold two months ago and she still is number 318 on the audiobook and 219 on the ebook.

At 6:30 pm she takes off to her writing workshop. She wears a wrist watch that is 7 minutes ahead of time, so she thinks she won´t arrive late to meetings and such, but always catches her by surprise when she sees the real time on my beautiful screen portraying her two children smiling. It´s too bad I can´t take a selfie of myself to put in this slice. I have to ask my old fashioned Canon Camera friend to do it for me.

Anyway, she put me in her fanny bag and we take off biking really fast, because she is indeed late. She arrives at the workshop when everybody is sitting around the table. She brought some brownies. This is going to be her last meeting, at least for a while. She will be in the US for two months. She leaves me on her backpack, but 15 minutes before 8, she takes me out. She needs to leave half an hour earlier. Her husband is participating in a round table discussion about the Green New Deal at 8:30 pm in Sevilla and she doesn´t want to miss that.

Between readings, and when the participants get off topic, she touches me and starts Strava and Mapmyrun. She is biking to Sevilla, and enjoys tracking down her path. She also wants to make sure she knows where is the meeting and fires up Google Maps. I am just hoping I last the entire trip. My battery gets exhausted with all the apps she has open.

She reads in a hurry her Little Red Riding Hood letter to the editor, and gets up apologizing that she is late. It´s already 8:05 pm. Everybody gives her two kisses and a hug. She gets her reflective vest, puts the front and back lights on her bike, straps the fanny pack where I am almost suffocated, and darts out pedaling as fast as the dark and traffic let her while Maria´s question still resonates in her mind: Did you write this letter very fast? —Yeah, probably between slices.

Usually she fools around when she bikes, stops, and takes photos of random things, or put her earphones and listen to a book if it´s a boring ride. Not this time. We can´t arrive late. While she is double locking the bike to the pole, she looks at me. 8:30 sharp. She opens my camera and takes a selfie that she sends to her writing group while she types “I arrived”. I don´t know if she does it because she is bragging or because she knows her group cares about her safety. Probably both.

Lying in bed very late at night, she tries to put a story on Instagram about her husband talk, but I am working very sloppy and slow. I think I am getting old. I am afraid I will end up in the box of old gadgets.

Even though I know she would get very upset if I got lost, I still think she hides many things from me. I wish I knew her better.


My apologies for this very long slice of life. My phone didn´t want to shut up.
My phone (Small)
Here is just a photo of me.
I arrived (Small)
“I arrived!” she wrote on my whatsapp
Strava to Sevilla (Small)
Here is Pia´s bike ride to Sevilla.

Day 19. In between jails : a free association of words #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individual

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 cárceles [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 Cárcel 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 Cárcel 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, —much more superficial though—, it was a long way down to go to Málaga and back to Sevilla.

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Entre Carceles and Sierpes Streets
Cervantes’ monument on Entrecárceles 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 Cárcel de Sevilla

Day 18. Please, don’t touch me with your feet. It gives me the creeps #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 18th:

—Please, no, not tonight.

— Go away! I want to sleep!

—How many times do I have to tell you that you are really annoying? Go away!

— Aaaaghhh!! Get out!

—Please, don’t touch me with your feet. It gives me the creeps

— I don’t understand you. It doesn’t matter how many times I push you out of my side, you keep insisting. I don’t know if you are masochistic or sadistic. Leave me alone! I am starting to have a headache. My body can’t stand your body on top of me.

—I can’t breath! Please, get out.

—Ok, that’s enough!

—Pleaaaaaase…

—Finally…

I roll over, hoping for not more disturbances. I was a little bit concerned because my last slap was kind of a briskly reaction.

—That’s it! I can stand your body, your feet, your breath but…

—No, no, no. Please tell me that this is not real…

—How can he sleep?

—Please, anything but kneading…I know its your way of showing me your love, but I dont’ need it now…especially when you extend your claws, and you are doing it on my face. I am not even a cat person!
— Prrrrrrrrr
— Ok. Fine. Whatever. Good night!

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Lola. Don’t fool yourself for her sweet appearance.

Day 17. Should I accept the challenge? #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 17th:

The mid March comment challenge is to write 75 comments on other people´s blogs. I wiped my eyes and enlarged the font of my screen. Did I read it correctly? Yep. SEVENTY FIVE. I did some quick calculations. If I spend 5 minutes in each blog it will take me 6.25 hours to comment on 75 blogs. A little more than 3 hours per day. Not that bad if I get up early and stick with the plan of  5 minutes per blog, especially if you think you can get a shot at winning such an awesome prize as $1,000 toward the tuition of a writing related workshop. I weight the pros and cons and decided that I have too much cleaning to do. Also, I know myself and my limitations. I know I wouldn´t spend three hours but probably it would take me five or six hours per day without counting writing my own daily slice. My house is too dirty to wait another week.

I understand that it is a big prize, and the challenge has to be difficult so not too many people compete and the chances of winning are higher. In my case, I know from the start I don’t have a chance. And the eventuality that my comments will be put in a blender to be raffled by a computer, makes me feel uneasy. I know there are fierce competitors in the field. And then, whenever I read a comment on my slice, I will think, oh, this person is doing the challenge, and really doesn’t care what I wrote. Sorry, I know I am being a jerk. I guess all these horrible thoughts were driving me to another spectrum of life.

I started thinking about what makes us to push things forward and when it’s too much, and we give up without even trying. This is so important with students. When to use a reward and how? Shouldn’t maybe teach them first to understand what type of competitors they are? Because the feeling of being always a loser is not nice.

When my daughter was 8 she joined the program Girls on the Run in her school. It taught girls to be confident while training for a 5 k race. My husband was going to be her running buddy, and I was determined to run with my 6 year old son. Sorry, I was not the one that was going to watch the race from the bleachers. The problem was that I was not convincing my son to run even though I knew 100% he could run 5 k. He was a little athletic machine, looking at me very unhappy. He didn’t want to run. I couldn’t understand why. Eventually he told me— because I won’t win.  I saw his face, and small body next to me. Then I looked at the thousands, and thousands of people that were passing us by, and I understood his point. It was pretty disheartening. 

Oh, well, that’s very true Vincent— I told him— but in life you will always have people ahead of you, and people behind. Your sister will be ahead of you today [my husband and I were hoping] because she has been training for four months. In this race you won’t be the first because it’s impossible and you haven’t even trained. You just need to look at how you are doing it. If you finish it, that’s considered a win.

And we ran, and we finished.

Probably, I should approach some challenges as lottery tickets, either enjoy buying the ticket and dream what would I do if I win, even if I know that I won’t, or put my pennies in a piggy bank and sign up for a workshop whenever my beautiful terracotta Dolores pig is full and I am ready to sacrifice her.

I am very competitive, but with myself. I love to compete in triathlons and I really don’t care if I am the last one. I just don’t like to quit. With the 75 comments challenge I know if I decide to take it, I wouldn´t quit. My house will stay dirty and I have guests coming next Tuesday. I hope they are not allergic to dust.

By the way Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I don’t want a leprechaun to pinch me if my slice lacks green

Dolores (Small)
My beautiful Dolores
Fairfax Corner 5K May 21 2005 091 (Small)
Our third “Girls on the Run Race” in May 2005

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 11. My last drama practice ride #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 11th:

I have been doing theatre here in Spain for almost eight years. In different groups, with different people. Last October, eight of us decided to get independent, creating a formal amateur group we called Jujurujú Teatro. We rented a space and start practicing every Monday from 9 to 11 pm   (yes, Spanish hours are crazy!) I was the treasurer. One of our friends, Artur, was the director. He is Portugues. We always laugh with him about his Portoñol. He calls the sections of our practices “blocos”, in Spanish bloques, blocks. I don´t know why saying blocos amused us so much.

We chose a play after lots of study and discussions. We took turns for leading practices since the director lived in Portugal, and came to Sevilla every other week. After each practice we shared a beer and tapas, and we laughed about our own miseries. We set the date of the premiere for May 17-18. I realized I was not going to make it. My daughter is graduating from college in the States.

It was unfair for the group that I keep having a main role, or even a small one, if I was not going to be able to practice on the most intense part of the rehearsals, let alone the first days we present the play. I am leaving in two weeks, and today was my last day. I decided to go on my bike, since my usual ride, a friend who lives in my town, was unable to go. I promised my husband I was going to return by train, the last one leaves at 10:54 pm. He couldn´t convince me I take the car. Parking downtown Sevilla is a nightmare.

I arrived when everybody was warming up. I unpacked, and tried to do my best to follow the instructions that Artur had sent me, and lead my last practice. We were working on discovering our character´s body, voice, and today was the turn of feelings and emotions. At the end of the bloco I asked everybody to form a circle and tell one feeling, with one movement that represent the emotional state of their character at that moment. The rest of us was going to repeat whatever they did. It was so nice to see their gestures and hear their feelings, all of them tied to excitement. The last part of practice  was reading the third act of the play. It was getting late for me to take the train. So I handed the money, gave a big hug to each of my compañeros, took my backpack, put my helmet, and closed quietly the door while they keep reading their lines.

Outside I unlocked my bike and pedaled to the station. If I had to say my feeling, probably I could not have find the right one. While my heart was filled with joy and thankfulness, a strange melancholy was invading my body while I was doing my last ride.

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