Posts

Not So Fast, 76 - 80. Yes, It's Real.

Image
That there are people who deny the pandemic, is only to be expected. Viruses are invisible, and the illness is a bit hit or miss; some people get very sick and die, while others seem to have a mild flu and go about their lives.  Then, last winter when the storm Filomena walloped Madrid with unprecedented snow, there appeared the snow deniers. They crunched up a snowball, tried to melt it with a lighter, and got a blackened snowball. That the snow was cold in their hands didn't mean anything. The deniers immediately claimed the snow was a plastic fake. Never mind. From there we jump to those who claim birds don't exist, that they were all killed to be replaced with robots that watch our every move. Tin foil is not enough for some.  Now come the deniers that missed out on entire classes of earth science in elementary school. Last Saturday, a volcano erupted on the Canary island of La Palma, just where vulcanologists had suspected it would, along the side of a volcano that had alr

Not So Fast, 67 - 75. September.

Image
And life swishes on by. This week is supposed to be the week of our town's festival, the Virxe de Guadalupe. Once upon a time (over a hundred years ago) it lasted three days, from Saturday to Monday. For the last half of the twentieth century, it lasted from Saturday to the following Wednesday. In this century, the festival has been amplified from Friday to the following Friday, with the last day a local holiday to make a three day weekend. The highlight of the festival is the last night, with three bands. At two in the morning, the lights of the plaza turn off, everyone who was fortunate to get sparklers lights them, and, one after the other, the three bands sing the Rianxeira, with everyone joining in. It's not a good idea to wear one's best clothes this evening, because not everyone keeps their sparker high in the air.  Ondiñas veñen, ondiñas veñen, Ondiñas veñen e van. Non te vaias, Rianxeira,  Que te vas a marear!   This song, A Rianxeira , was written back in 1947, i

Not So Fast, 60 - 66. Discovering Peña Trevinca

Image
On Monday, I took one of my days of being out from morning till night. I had really wanted to visit Porto again, but, even though contagion is going down, the idea of being in the midst of a lot of people, having to wear a mask, was off-putting. So, I decided to visit a corner of Galicia I had never been to, Peña Trevinca. Peña Trevinca is the name of the highest mountain in Galicia, at 2127 meters (The highest mountain in Spain is in the Pyrenees, Pico Aneto, at 3404 meters.). It's right on the border between the provinces of Ourense and Zamora, which means it's also on the border of the two autonomous regions of Galicia and Castilla-León. It's really part of a group of mountains, in a protected area, though it's not yet a national park. It has trails all through it, visiting both the summits, and the myriad of glacial lakes.  My intention was to try to find a short trail to at least one of the lakes. That was my intention. In reality, I spent most of the morning and e

Not So Fast, 58 & 59. Setting Up Classes

Image
I am now on vacation. It's an unpaid one, but I get to have my days all to myself. This, however, doesn't mean I can forget all about my classes. This is the time of year I start pulling my hair out by the roots. Mothers (almost always mothers, as if the fathers had nothing to do with their kids' education) start calling me to set up their kids' English classes. I have little room, so I can't take more than three, or, stretching it, four kids an hour, preferably all of the same or similar ages. Here's the problem. There are five hours of classes in each day, but it seems some children have more than ten hours of busy time each afternoon. "Tuesday's a bad day because Johnny has football practice and then he goes to kayaking. After that, he has a swimming class. Thursdays he has trombone practice, and theater, followed by some more football. Have you got anything for him on Fridays?" "Not for his age group. I do have an hour on Wednesdays he can

Not So Fast, 53 - 57. The Sword of Religion.

Image
A young woman is walking along the road, humming quietly to herself a song her mother used to sing to her as a baby. Her green cloak is still new, and she decided to wear it because of the chill in the air, despite the fact that her mother had warned her not to. Times had changed. The war had ended, and the men of religion had won. They had begun to impose their laws, and a green cloak was not appropriate any more.  "Woman!" a shout breaks her reverie. She looks around. A man of the law is standing behind her. "There is to be no singing! You are to be clad only in black! Hie ye home and strip that ungodly color off your back!" The girl turns and rushes home, her green cloak flowing like a wind-blown leaf. Her mother had been right. It was a good thing he hadn't asked her who her parents were, and where she lived. There would be a record of how the religious men had entered their house and taken the food cooking over the fire on the last Wednesday of the previous

Not So Fast, 48 - 52. A Shot in the Arm.

Image
August is winding down to a close, with just a week left. The days are now nicely warm and summery, just as summer is about to end. There are blackberries in the sun-speckled areas of the woods, and I've eaten some, already. The days are now losing their light, as the sun heads away from us, with sunrise at around eight in the morning, and sunset at about nine in the evening. There's less than a month to go to the fall equinox, and then the darkness of winter descends upon us.  As school comes closer (9 September for primary, and 15 September for secondary), parents are caught up in buying clothes, though books and supplies will wait for the lists to come home on the first day. This year, back to school also means getting a shot, and the age group getting their Covid vaccines are now from 12 - 16. I don't know if the European medical agencies will recommend the vaccine for younger children; perhaps they will wait for further research, but I suspect primary schoolers will so

Not So Fast, 44 - 47. 'Tis the Season.

Image
It's been lazy August days, this week, neither too hot nor too cool. Earlier in the week, it was windy, which is why someone probably chose to start a small fire in the woods last Tuesday evening.  That afternoon, a cloud of smoke from a largish fire in the township of Rois had already covered part of the sky that we can see out our front windows. Gradually, as it was being put out, the cloud diminished. But, close to eight in the evening, with about a good hour and a half of daylight left, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye while sitting in the study. I turn to look out the window, and notice a cloud of smoke. I start wondering if the fire in Rois hadn't perked up, thought it seemed strange that it should have done so. I go to the window, and see that the cloud is coming from a clump of trees behind our neighbor's house.  I start to yell that there's fire. My husband and daughter run to the front door, then put on their wellingtons and go to the path that