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Too Much Self

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When I was a little girl in Catholic school back in Boston, I was taught that humility is a virtue. I was taught that I wasn't the important one; others were. That teaching conditioned me a lot. I never tried to showcase myself in a situation. Yes, I was selfish plenty of times, what kid isn't, especially an only child? But I tried to be aware of others.

I grew up loving beautiful images, and, when I was a teenager, I tried to capture them. My parents bought me a reflex camera and I started to train myself to see my surroundings properly. Since I was the one holding the camera, pictures of me from late adolescence onward are rare. Only on our day trips, or on special occasions, has my husband taken over my camera to take a photo of me. My current Facebook profile picture was one such moment. 

When I wander around, I like to look at the places I visit, and take pictures to remember them accordingly. I know I was there; I have no reason to plaster my face into those pictures. I de…

Concert Evening

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Now that we're getting old, we're going out to concerts. Last year, we camped out at the Resurrection Fest, and saw Scorpions, in July. Then we drove to A Coruña to see The Pretenders at the Festival do Noroeste, in August. This year, we saw Mark Knopfler in A Coruña, in May, and last Saturday we went to the music festival in Santiago, O Son do Camiño, to see Iggy Pop.

We've been to other concerts at the Monte do Gozo, the hill outside Santiago that shares an amphitheatre with a pilgrims' hostel complex. The first was in 1993 to see Bruce Springsteen. The second was to see Bob Dylan in 2004. Back then, the amphitheatre had seats and was more comfortable. Then, at the oversold Bruce Springsteen concert a few years ago, the seats were filled in to sell more tickets and now the seats are simply low ledges difficult for a fifty-year old to sit on in any kind of comfort. 

But sitting was done only in between acts. When we arrived, at just after eight in the evening, the sun w…

Suicide by Trash

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This past week, town workers have gone and cleaned the ditches and shoulders of the road we sit on. Now, on my morning walks, not only do I have room to escape from a car without having to entangle myself in brambles, I can also look and see the detritus of our civilization. 

Plastic wrappers, plastic bags, soda and water bottles, shredded Nestea cans, tattered cigarette packets, and a plethora of beer cans litter the ditch. It's amazing what people will throw out of car windows. Then, there's the debris left behind from a recent accident; pieces of a bumper, side mirror, and other pieces of hard plastic with no discernible relationship to a car. 

Generally, Europe is a clean place. At least, it is compared to Boston. I remember the last time I went to Boston (fourteen years already!), stepping out of the terminal at Logan airport onto the street. The first thing that caught my eye was the trash. Despite a large trash can, everything was scattered on the ground. The streets of t…

"You Can't Make Me!"

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I have various cats. Some of those various cats have had medical problems from time to time. I have had to take them to the vet. Some protest little when the time comes to get into the carrier or to take medicine. I have one, that when I bring out the carrier, comes to sniff it, and even steps inside. Curiosity rules. Others, you can't even see their shadow. Survival rules.

My oldest, Matrionuxca, had a problem with an abscess and had been seeing the vet regularly for the past couple of weeks. The first time, it was easy to introduce her into the carrier; she hadn't seen it for a while. Last week was the last day she had an appointment. I tiptoed with the carrier into the kitchen, carefully, without making a sound. Even so, she spied me, and when I went to pick her up, she had her suspicions confirmed, and tried to slip away. Putting her in face first was a no-no. She stiffened into a block with strange angles and wouldn't be moved in. I had to turn her around, and, looking…

The Passing of the Pink Rabbit

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The other day, I read the sad news in The Guardian that Judith Kerr had died at the age of ninety-five. Another piece of my childhood has gone. 

I came into contact with her through When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I know she is better known (at least in Britain) for other children's books, such as The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and the Mog series, but to me she will always bring memories of Anna, thinking about Hitler playing with her Pink Rabbit. She wrote two other semi-autobiographical books describing her adolescence and young adulthood, but the first is the best. Of late, the best thing she collaborated on (in my opinion) was the Christmas commercial for Sainsbury's in 2015. It features Mog, and Judith even has a cameo in it. You can see it here. I still laugh, and cry, every time I watch it.

But back when I read Pink Rabbit, Anna resonated with me. In short, it's about a well-to-do Jewish family living in Berlin. The father is a well-known critic and writer who has spoken a…

Alabama's Shame

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So, an adult woman now has control over her finances, her education, her choice of job, and her choice of domicile. One might say that modern woman finally has complete control over her life, after centuries of being practically the property of the men in her life, whether father, brother, husband, or son. 

Not if she lives in Alabama. 

This week, the Alabama legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, the most restrictive abortion law in the United States since Roe vs. Wade came into being back in 1973. Under this new law, Alabama women cannot have an abortion unless the fetus is so deformed that her life is threatened, or that it cannot survive. Any doctor performing an abortion, if convicted, can face up to 99 years in prison. In contrast, a rapist faces up to 20 years, and those charged with incest, up to 10. Alabama is now saying it's not as bad to rape a woman as it is to do an abortion. 

I am not saying abortion is the best solution to the problem of an unwanted preg…

The Case of the Crowing Rooster

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Tourism in Spain is growing by leaps and bounds. Now that our cities are chock-a-block with tourists gawking at the locals, small towns and villages are getting into the action, promoting "rural tourism," and setting up small hotels and apartments in out-of-the-way hamlets. It's been going on for some years, but of late, it seems to be growing exponentially, as city people want to escape to the countryside.

Well, the countryside is full of people who have small farms with livestock for their own use. Many village houses have strutting, clucking chickens in farmyards, some still have grunting pigs, a very few have cud-chewing cows. Contrary to the expectation of the city-dweller, the countryside is not silent. Not even in the middle of the woods, five kilometers from civilization, is it silent. Animals live there. It's a different kind of noise from the Paseo de la Castellana at six in the afternoon, but it's still noise. 

Apparently, some guests of a rural hotel in…