Showing posts from May, 2017

The Whine of the Night

It begins downstairs, in the kitchen. Something seems to pass by in the air before your eyes. You hear the whine of a chainsaw. It stops. Suddenly, you feel an itch on your upper arm. You pass a hand over the area, and the chainsaw begins again. A mosquito.  It's that time of year again. With the warming spring all sorts of creatures wake up, including the blood suckers. Some would argue those exist all year. But I'm talking about those little critters that appear when the world starts to look tempting and green, and you start to look tempting and warm blooded. They take the joy out of good weather. It's even worse when the days are sultry, like last week. On a couple of days the temperatures went above 90ºF/32ºC, just like on one of those impossible days in July. The nights were mild, perfect for sleeping with the windows open. The bombardment began upon going to bed. You wake up with a maddening itch somewhere on your body, generally in an out of the way place. You

Musical Memories

Music. It's supposed to soothe the beast. It punctuates special moments in our lives, both sad and elated. It can even help bring back the person from the locked shell Alzheimer's converts our bodies into. As far as I know, humans are the only species that creates specific melodies to be repeated over and over. Yesterday I read a blog post by fellow blogger, Angela Stratta ( She talks about the music in her life, from her childhood on up. She remembers songs from her childhood through to her grandchildren's childhoods. She's lucky. I don't really remember music from my childhood. I was very much locked into the Spanish cocoon my parents had created in our home, and my parents didn't know songs, or at least, none to sing to me. And, rather than the pop music everyone else was listening to in Boston at that time, I remember listening to Ana Kiro, Xoan Rubio, Las Grecas, Fórmula V, Peret, ABBA, or Camilo Sesto. This was thanks to

Praying Less

Spain, home of the Inquisition and the Catholic Monarchs. Home of the black-clad women walking to Mass every Sunday, their heads covered with pious black mantillas. Country where every major ceremony came punctuated with a priest sprinkling his blessing on the encounter. Country where just about everyone was baptized into the Catholic Church at birth, and where the yearly celebration was not a person's birthday, but the day of the saint he was named after. Spain, one of the first European countries to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption. Country with (finally) one of the most liberal abortion laws (up to twelve weeks, no reason asked). Country with a continuous downturn in practicing Catholics. Country where most openly criticize the Church many were still baptized into. What happened to make the most Catholic of countries one of the most agnostic? Even Portugal is more religious now.  I think this is a rebound effect from Francoist times. Franco was extremely Catholic. Eve

From Myth to History

Reading history is humbling. You realize you're not that special. You also realize just about everyone went through the same things you have. And sometimes you also learn that things which seemed solid knowledge are really based on quicksand. For many years I have heard that Galicia is a Celtic nation, along with Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany in France. But that's not quite true. The idea of a Celtic nation is also under debate.  The idea of a Celtic nation is something relatively recent. Arqueologists will confirm that there was no such thing as a Celt. There were similarities in communities stretching from central Europe to the Atlantic shores from about 2000 B.C.E. until the ascension of the Romans, but from that to an ethnically homogeneous community is a jump taken by the Romantics in the nineteenth century with no real basis in fact.  Nineteenth century nationalisms have their roots in the rising of European states in medieval times. The fact is tha

And It Comes to an End

Emptiness. That's all I feel. We're in the very Spanish, very modern, very sanitary funeral home. In a refrigerated room behind plate glass, lies my father in his casket, on view. Flowers surround him. People start to come in. They come to me, the principle mourner, give me the mandatory kiss on each cheek, murmur platitudes. The hour of the funeral is approaching. Until now, it has seemed simply like a strange day, spending our time in a largish room with chairs and couches along the walls, talking with friends about all sorts of matters, trying to bring about world peace and end hunger everywhere, as if we could do so just by voicing our opinions. Now, the worst moment looms before me, worse even than when my father stopped breathing in his hospital room. The priest comes in. We all rise. I don't listen. I move my mouth as if I'm repeating the Lord's Prayer with the rest. The difficult moment is upon us. Everyone begins to leave. We wait to leave behind the hear


Once again, life is on hold while my father is in the hospital. This time, it's more serious. His chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has worsened. He now needs a compressed air machine forcing air into his lungs. Our biggest problem is that it's just two of us, my husband and me. Our daughter is in her junior year of college, and must continue her studies. Being an only child is both a blessing and a curse.  At his eighty-five years, my father has already lived a long life. His is the generation that has gone from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first in material and social matters. Rural Spain when he was born in 1931 was not the rural Spain of now. There was no running water in the houses, no toilets, no electricity. There were only the very occasional cars that belonged to the very wealthy. People moved mostly on foot or by cow-drawn carts, or by donkey. The poor didn't have horses, either. Education was received if one paid for it. The lucky ones who co