Thursday, May 31, 2018

An Evening in Apúlia That Began with Pessoa

My husband and I returned Sunday from a five-day trip to Braga, Portugal. We went for the Braga Romana Festival, which I'll be posting about soon, with pictures.  Here is a little "taster" until then. But today our last evening in Braga is fresh in my mind, because friends we've been privileged to know — Carla Pereira, her husband, Armando Coelho, and their daughter, Beatriz — made it magical.  
To begin with, I am a fan of Pessoa, the mysterious Portuguese poet whose poems were never discovered until after his death. He's considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, and one of Portugal's two greatest poets. The fact that I'm a fan doesn't mean I've read a lot of his work: But I do have two books of his translated poems that I dip into from time to time. And when I do, there is something about his use of words, even translated, that etch the heart and linger on.
So the evening we were to go out to dinner, Carla invited us to their flat for snacks first, and gave us this marvelous present: A hand-crafted book of some of his poems. You can see what a marvel the book is: The cover is wood, as it the spine, all lovingly assembled into a masterpiece of workmanship. The poems are in Portuguese, alas, but I will make it my Portuguese language lesson to start translating them one by one — probably for the next 30 years! 😊 She also gave us a bottle of Dona Carla wine, which we are saving for a special occasion. (Maybe when my new book comes out in October)

Those were the first two surprises.

The third surprise was where we went for dinner — a small fishing village about 32 kilometers away from Braga. It's called Apúlia, which is also the name of a town in Italy, and it is thought that perhaps there is a connection, due to Roman-style original folk costumes that may go back to the Roman Empire. The name of the restaurant was A Cabana (The Beach Hut). More about that later, but first we walked along the beach, enjoying the fresh breeze, the susurro of waves, the peacefulness that always comes near the ocean.


Carla took the picture of me on the beach looking up at Rajan. The reason I like this picture so much is that a few minutes earlier, a man came along singing loudly and with high spirits. I think he was gypsy because of the melody of his song and the wonderful "warbling" effect that you often hear in gypsy music. He stopped and leaned on the rail above, looking out to sea, with his arms wide open toward the water. Rajan was beside him at that point and gave him a couple of coins, and, in Spanish he spoke at length, thanking Rajan, blessing him, blessing his wife (with a nod to me where I was looking up from the sand), and then he went on his way, singing. I had my camera and would have loved to take a picture, but it would have made him self-conscious. And it would have destroyed the moment. But it's an experience I will always remember. 

Before we got back in the car to go to A Cabana, we posed for two group photos. And then we went on to the restaurant which was another great experience.

The restaurant was one of several in a line, but it was absolutely packed. Obviously a popular place. Wonderful artifacts of the sea and of fishing. Waiters who loved to joke — and who were some of the fastest I'd ever seen! And the food was just delicious. We had grilled salmon, but it came with potatoes and vegetables, and the meal was served with a very tasty table wine in a carafe the water kept refilling. Everyone at every table seemed to be having a wonderful time. (WE certainly were!) 

Finally, it was time to go. But the evening wasn't over! You might call this surprise #4: Armando drove us from beach area to beach area as twilight fell. It was a beautiful night. The sky was that lovely blue that always seems so mystical. The moon wasn't visible from inside the car, but Venus was — a planet, but also known as the evening star and the morning star, and always shining brightly. That's the epitome of Portugal for me: always shining brightly. 

How about you? What is the most magical trip you can remember? What is the most magical evening? Does twilight affect you? Do you love to wander along the beach?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Late Celebration of My Husband's Birthday.

My husband's birthday was last Thursday, but we've been too busy to post anything. Here is a photo of where we had our birthday dinner Thursday (O Grelo), a wonderful restaurant in Monforte de Lemos that cooked some of the best fish we've ever tasted.

The next day we had lunch with a friend, and she brought us a beautiful white rose, which has been unfolding by degrees each day in our galleria. 

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Lots more has been going on before and after, visits with friends and sightseeing, but frankly, we've been too busy for me to download anything until this morning. And all my posting about other pictures will have to wait because we are on the go again, visiting friend today and going to Braga, Portugal tomorrow (for 5 days). I hope to bring back lots of pictures and do lots of posting on return. Till then, best wishes for a good week and wonderful week-end.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Today I'm Posting Next Door at Elizabeth Varadan's Fourth Wish

My post today about a recent trip to an ancient castro is next door at my Fourth Wish Blog. You can read it HERE. Please do visit, and I'll be back at Victorian Scribbles later this week.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Mystery Anthology is Launched!

I'm not a member of the ISWG, but I'm a mystery fan, and the prospect of a collection of mystery short stories was too good to pass up. I've ordered my print copy that will be waiting for me when I get back from my vacation. Go visit the site HERE and grab a copy for yourself: It's in both print format and ebook format.

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Here is the blurb: "The clock is ticking...
Can a dead child's cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting…"


Are you a mystery fan? Do you belong to the ISWG? Do you like story collections? 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Back in Galicia, Spain!

Today I'm celebrating being back in Galicia Spain. It's hard to believe we left Sacramento two weeks ago, arriving on Saturday evening, April 14th (Spain time). Since arrival, we've had intermittent cold, warmth, bright sunny days, thunderstorms, sun again, wind . . .. Each day is an adventure in weather.

It's great to be back! We've been busy ever since, having lunches with friends, snacks with neighbors, visiting our closest neighbors Eva & Manolo often, walking to a nearby pueblo (about a mile or two away), going into Monforte de Lemos (the closest bigger town) to walk around and stop for a glass of wine at our favorite cafe-bar on the main plaza.

Above is a picture of our field that one of our neighbors, Miguel-Angel plants each year with potatoes. It was plowed like this last week with plans to plant on Monday, but a fierce thunderstorm struck on Sunday, so he had to wait until Wednesday. Here are some scenes from a walk we took to El Barrio, a small village that fringes the larger village of Tuiriz.

This is outside a small village
 called Santalla, taken from the road.
Nearing El Barrio. 
Somewhere along the way.

Meanwhile, below is a picture of the plaza in Monforte. It's like this all the time, filled with families enjoying coffee, lunch, beer or wine, pastries. Kids running about everywhere in glee. Babies being cooed over. And the rise and fall of voices in the beautiful Spanish language.
Outside a cafe-bar we like, Lienzo.

Because we have come here so often and for so long, we keep running into people we know in Monforte. It's almost like a homecoming. Our Spanish is decent enough that we can limp through conversations without too much trouble. In no way can I say we are fluent—we aren't by a long shot—but it's encouraging to at least understand most things and to be understood. (And the Spanish are encouraging. They patiently wait out our word searches.)

More pictures will be coming. Meanwhile, do you like to walk out in the country? In the park? What are some of your favorite walks?

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Two Great Books by Steve Richardson

Today I want to share two wonderful books for children, both written by Steve Richardson. They are inspiring and uplifting picture story books/early chapter books, and each one is beautifully illustrated. Both are picture books for kids of any age, since the pictures tell each story visually. They are the kind of books that belong in libraries—public, school, and personal—because they beg to be read more than once. The first is Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest, which came out last month. The second is Billy's Mountain. (My neighbor read it to her two-year-old grandson, and he has been building mountains in her back garden ever since.) Without further ado:

Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest,
written by Steve Richardson, illustrated by Chris Dunn

When Jimmy Squirrel announces that his dad can build the biggest, best treehouse in the world, he stirs up competition among his friends—and not the best kind. Everyone says their dad can build bigger and better ones. Only Paisley Rabbit is silent, but she is the one to suggest a contest: Everyone will build a treehouse and then vote on the best one. 
            They all get to work on building their treehouses—except Paisley. She gets to work on research instead. Her main priority is her little brother, Davy, who needs a kidney transplant. She promises him she will have a special project for him and then plots out her master plan. 
            There is so much to like about this book. No spoilers here, but Paisley shows how vision, perseverance, caring for others, and working together can achieve much more than brash ego. Her ultimate treehouse benefits others in a way no one would have foreseen. This is an inspiring story with a strong female protagonist. The ending is both surprising and deeply satisfying.
            Chris Dunn's illustrations are gorgeous, with incredible details. Page by page, they tell the story as a feast for the eyes. This is a book for every home or school library, and it’s a layered story one will read again and again.

Billy's Mountain, written by Steve Richardson, illustrated by Herb Leonard

            For Billy, life on a Kansas Prairie has only offered an unchanging landscape of flat prairie. His favorite book shows snow-capped mountains, forests, waterfalls. One day an idea comes to him: he’ll build a mountain like the ones in his beloved book. It will bring all the wildlife in those pictures: bears, deer, elk, beavers. At first, Billy enlists the help of his friends, but the going is slow, and they give up after they’ve built a forty-foot hill. 

But Billy is determined. He contacts a family friend who is also a reporter. The reporter writes an article about Billy’s dream. The story makes national news. The news reaches an old man who remembershisearly dreams. He, too has a determined spirit. He decides to work with Billy. And when young and old work together with determination—well, miracles can happen. 

The author takes time with the miracles that unfold in this book. Young readers will develop an understanding of ecology and wildlife while seeing, too, the result of collective effort and commitment. None of this is didactic or preachy. It’s easy to get involved in Billy’s plans and root for them, and it’s interesting to wait for what comes next.

Herb Leonard’s illustrations have the same, comfortable feel that drives the story. Kansas prairies, mountain meadows, snow caps and streams, Billy’s hopeful face as he thinks of his mountain—all these have a glow to them that make a reader feel they are in each scene.  

You can learn more about Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest HERE
You can learn more about Billy's Mountain HERE

How about you? Do you have favorite books that keep resonating with you because of both the wonderful story and the wonderful illustrations? Any titles, authors, or illustrates  to share?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Entering Contests — At Last


These pictures may look familiar to you. This is how my desk usually looks when I        
 haven't tidied it up, and I seldom think to take a picture of it looking neat. This is how it looks again, because I've been insanely busy, and a mess doesn't seem to call for new photos.

Between this week and last, I have submitted 2 stories, 3 flash fictions, and 12 poems to contests. Yup. I'm celebrating that. And this is why I did it: I'm staring work on part two of an old book that bogged down when I got stuck. It's an MG novel, and you know how long a novel can take! Now I'm on fire with this WIP again, but I have learned from experience: 

When I work on a novel, everything else just sits in the filing cabinet: stories, flash fictions, poems. And they nag at me. Besides, my copy of Poets & Writers was giving me the accusing stare. I'm always interested in thumbing through the magazine's links for general submission deadlines — that I often don't do anything about — but this issue (March/April) is chock full of contests with  deadlines in March, April, and May. 

 So. I decided, get those little rascals out of the cabinet and into the cybersphere so they aren't hanging over my head, interfering with the present novel I want to work on in peace. It was a matter of clearing the slate. It isn't too late to get your own copy of Poets & Writers, even go to your local library, and check out deadlines you can still make. There's quite a few in April & May.

Now I can even clean house (way overdue, since I was doing research for the novel.) Yup, it's clearing out time in general.

How about you? Have you taken on any "clean sweep" type projects? Have you taken the plunge to submit to contests? What are you celebrating this week?

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate.)