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

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

 

 

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing with the senses

Day 19. Festival of Fire #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

Day 17. Following the protocol #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

Day 16. Dead but with my hair done #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 16th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Today, I talked in the morning with two of my friends in Spain via video Whatsapp. Maria, my former writing workshop leader was confined in her house with her children 14 and 18. She lives in a town of 7,500 inhabitants located 15 miles northwest of Sevilla. We brainstormed of having one of her Thursday writing workshops via Zoom or Google Hangout. We tried both, but we were worried that some members were not going to be able to quickly figure out how to connect with these tools. Whatsapp is one app that everybody masters in Spain. Probably, we will be end up sending audios with our stories read by ourselves in our group chat. People will listen to them at their leisure. They also have a drive folder where we can upload the stories.

We talked about the situation of the covid19 here and Spain and what we were up to. We even gave each other a tour of our houses. We laughed since we sounded like real estate agents trying to convince the other to buy their home. We even showed each other our bathrooms! That was the maximum expression of confinement boredom. On the other hand it was so nice to be have the time to do that. No rush, no sorry I can´t answer, I have to go, I have to work.   

I was impressed about how strict was the confinement in Spain. Police could fine people if they didn´t have a real excuse to be on the street. Andaluces are gregarious people. I can imagine that´s very difficult for them to be isolated, and unable to go to their favorite family restaurant for breakfast.

She told me that to go outside they have to do it alone. Forget the buddy system. The only exception is if they were helping a disable person. They can only go outside if they need to go to the supermarket, the tobacco store (Spaniards are heavy smokers, and not having cigarettes might be very unnerving during confinement), the pharmacy, taking somebody to the health center or going to the hairdresser. Yes, you read correctly, the hairdresser!

After María, I talked for two hours to my  Chilean friend, José. We videochat via Whatsapp also. I caught him at my noon, his 9 pm. He was having supper all alone in a house with ten rooms and six bathrooms in the middle of downtown Sevilla. It´s an old house whose owners rent to scholars and college students. Since all the other tenants were Americans who flee home, the house was empty. José is a PhD student at the Scuola Normale Superiore, one of the most prestigious universities in Pisa, Italy. He is in Sevilla doing some research at the General Archives of the Indies. His chances of going home are very slim, so he is hanging there tight. We talked for 2.5 hours! Both were very surprised of how time flew. When I asked him what´s up with the Spaniards that can´t go to walk to a park but go to the hair dresser, he laugh and told me: it`s very Spanish: Dead but with my hair done. 

Later, I read Spaniards themselves laughed about this exemption profusely. Social media was inundated with memes and jokes about it. Today the government decided that probably hair salons and barbershops needed to close also.

Spain confinement

Semana Santa in Sevilla was cancelled. Processions are VERY important for sevillanos. This is a cartoon joking about that.

Police 1: Could you all explain me where are you going?
Nazareno 1: I am going to the supermarket
Nazareno 2: I am going to the pharmacy
Nazareno 3: I am going to the tobacco store
Police 2: And the Virgin Mary?
Nazareno 4: It´s not the Virgin Mary, it´s my mother. I am taking her to the Health Center.

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Here are a couple of memes that shows signs of barbershops and hair dressers with a menu of sandwiches and beer, a man holding a sign saying he has a hairdresser appointment and another with a complain that the government is closing every store but not hairdressers.

Feria meme

This is a tweet saying that they found a way of not cancelling April´s Fair in Seville, by putting signs of Tobacco Store, Hairdresser and Dry Cleaner on the “casetas” where people gathered tight during this Fair.