a wandering woman writes

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Faking Midgets?

Just checked out my stats. I'm avoiding finishing an assignment for a writing class, truth be told, so checking out stats seemed as worthwhile and urgent an endeavour as cleaning out the fridge, which I finished about an hour ago.

Where, I asked myself, do these lovely Google-led visitors of mine come from? What literary phrase, what lofty ideals, what hefty hunk of Spanish or English vocabulary carries them to my humble web abode?

With some keywords, I was delighted:

"the road not taken", for example, through Google in Korea.
Yeh! Come on over, happy to stand for that anyday.

"grace o'malley a woman pirate of west ireland"
Hell yes, I did mention Grace one time, and I'm thrilled to be tossed into a search for feisty Irish sailing women.

I feel a bit bad about this:

"be careful with spaniards"
Not sure if that advice is for your own good, or the good of the delicate Spaniards, but I can assure you I never meant to say it. Maybe it's some strange hidden message repeated at 78 rpm when you record my posts and play them backwards, but whatever it is, it was accidental, I swear.

But the real puzzler? It's this:

Someone arrived at wandering-woman after searching aol for

"faking midgets"
Actually the amazing thing is that anyone was searching for "faking midgets" at all, not that they landed here, but still, while I am a relatively short woman, I consider myself quite authentic, and my short stature, for one thing, is absolutely true to life.

So here's a shameless plug for the post that landed this one-of-a-kind, false midget-hunting fish, and a boast.

With the title of today's post, I know I now own the search results for faking midgets. Please, if you've arrived fresh from a new search for artificial short people, leave a comment. We'd all love to get to know you.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Hugging the coast

My mind's been on water lately.

Boats, rain, open seas, swimming in lakes, riding waves, cool clear drinking water, you name it.

I hadn't quite figured out why.

Yesterday I stumbled onto a quote that got me thinking about my current in-between, and then brought me back to boats again.

Seems a literary critic asked a sculptor if he'd figured out the secret of life during his 80 years on the planet. His answer:

The secret of life is to have a task, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is: It must be something you cannot possibly do.

~ Henry Moore

Then I ran into this post at Worthwhile (a blog I recommend if you are thinking business thoughts) that puts Moore's quote in familiar nautical terms.

It's all about stretch, the Worthwhile post says. Horizon. Got to leave the old coast behind before you can hope for a glimpse of the new. Got to watch that horizon open up to nothing.

And that's my in-between! Horizon. Nothing but sky.

Thinking about throwing off my own lines soon. Bow, stern, spring lines, you name it. I've been a little scarce around these parts, I know. It's the provisioning, the last minute repairs. Bear with me. I'm sure there'll be good tales of the trip, mermaids, pirates, lost sea birds, and occasionally bored sailors (when the wind dies down) once we get out in open water.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

On watching fireworks with an española

I'll never see fireworks the same way again.

I've been cackling nonstop about my experience watching the Virgen de la Vega fireworks with my landlady, Teresa. Since my coworkers have tired of hearing my española impressions, I'll tell all of you.

There was water coming in from next door. An ugly, blotch on my otherwise pristine bedroom wall. Teresa had stopped by to continue the ongoing negotiations with plumbers, painters and the entire population of Plaza S--, Door 2. Seems it absolutely, positively, without doubt wasn't anyone's fault.

I was enjoying the dance, which ended with the owner of the apartment from which the water entered mine declaring to a unanimous chorus of Pues, bueno's, Entonces and vigorously nodding heads that the water must have come through some secret passageway for water pipes - from the apartment above his, which would make all repairs the sole responsibility of the only property owner not present.


Business concluded, an air kiss on either cheek and Teresa was out the door... until it hit her.

Los fuegos! Erin! La hora!

Time for the fireworks. And here she was inside an apartment with a front row view. We made for the double-width window in the salon.

And I learned something. I come from reserved stock, New England Irish Catholic, to be exact. My mother has just enough Scot in her to be tighter than tight and internationally famous (well, I live in Spain) for shhhhing any sound that might possibly reach the neighbors.

But I love fireworks. I haven't missed a single show in Salamanca, and we have plenty, although up to this point I had watched all of them alone.

No more.

Teresa ooohed. She aaaahhed. She grabbed my arm and gave little leaps in the air, and Teresa's at least 4 inches taller than me, and downright statuesque.

¡Los azules! Los azules, ¡miralos Erin! ¡Los azules!

And with every sonic boom:
¡Vaya bombazos! ¡Vaya!

Miralos, ¡cómo caen! Ay, ¡son estrellas desde el cielo, Erin! ¡O los corazones! ¡Los corazones! Ves, Erin, ¿ves?

Better than Dick Vitale, if anyone else out there spent the 80's watching Big 10 basketball. She couldn't keep quiet, and why should she? She was at that moment watching a damn good fireworks show. And all the excitement I get out of fireworks (well, I must like them, or I wouldn't scramble for the camera and race to the window every time) came tumbling out of Teresa.

She announced every color.

Oh Erin! Blue! Do you see the blue!! And oh! The greens! See the greens, how they hang?

Just look how they fall!

She squealed at every shape.

The hearts! The hearts! Oh, I love the hearts!! Erin, Erin, look at them, look at them! They're hearts!

(Yes, we have hearts in our fireworks, which strike me as little too 5th grade Friends 4ever for my taste, but they pleased the crowd. And it wasn't hard to tell.)

Twenty minutes later, I felt like I'd shared an intimate experience with Teresa.

Fiesta fireworks.

In short, I've found another piece of española I think I'll take inside and keep. When watching fireworks, watch fireworks.

And if the mood hits, squeal.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Watching Royals

Spain's King and Queen, Zapatero, the president of Spain's government, and Latin American heads of state greet very wet Salmantinos, myself included, from the balcony of the Town Hall in Plaza Mayor. The nonstop`chatter of the señoras around me was well worth the wait in the rain, which had stopped by the time my intern Christophe took this picture. Christophe views the world from a vantage point at least a foot above my own and for that reason made a fine designated photographer. My view up until the very end, when I managed to scoop a front row spot: a lot of very attractive umbrellas.

We're still surrounded. If anyone's worried about my safety, you can stop now. There are so many policeman and security teams wandering around Salamanca they've even begun to flirt with 42 year old me. Which makes me suspect they outnumber the locals.

I ran into the Queen and her entourage leading the various first ladies through a tour of Salamanca on my way back from El Arbol this morning. And I enjoyed this photo for some reason. The old world and the new: Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofia, arm in arm, while Vicente Fox and his wife stroll good old American style (careful, my fellow estadounidenses, I'm talking continents here), hand in hand.

After I handed the camera to Christophe yesterday, I found a place to watch the action in Spanish, surrounded by Salmantinas. (All women, yes, not sure if they are just bigger royal watchers, or less likely to have to work.) Either way, thank God for them! As the long black sedans that at this moment make up all of the non-law enforcement traffic in central Salamanca snaked through the Plaza, the only clue to who might be inside was the damp flag waving alongside the antenna.

Latin American flags? Who? Me? Not a one.

But my lovely crowd neighbors called out every one for me, as we watched Toledo and Kirchner and Lula and company, and all of their strikingly young wives (whose hair and clothing won the heartfelt approval of the Salmantinas) arrive at Town Hall.

The couple everyone wanted to see - Mr. and Mrs. Kofi Annan - never arrived, although I did find it interesting that Annan was the star attraction for everyone in my little section. The woman to my right chanted "Kofi, Kofi" as each new sedan splashed its way across the Plaza. Intriguing, considering the beating he gets in the US.

What did I learn? Everything is more fun surrounded by people who are thrilled to be living in the moment. Even if the moment is silly, like standing in the rain watching bigwigs wave from a balcony. OK, and it helps if your people have a genetic compulsion to express every thought and sensation. Loudly. We ooohed, we ahhhed, then we got teary eyed as Colombian and Uruguayan immigrants waved their flags and gleefully cheered on the Presidents they'd left behind.

All of which reminds me of a story I think I will tell you tomorrow.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lo que la naturaleza no da...

Salamanca no presta.

What nature doesn't give, even Salamanca can't lend you.

In the photo: my beautiful city. Plaza Mayor, walking home from work, Tuesday night.
Isn't she gorgeous?

Right now she's all swept up in international intrigue, cross-continental controversies and (I'll admit to having indulged in this myself) world-class Fidel spotting. Or speculating, since we can't be sure he's really here.

Wise old Salamanca is the site of the IberoAmerican Summit taking place between today and Sunday. We've been swarmed by police, on foot, in paddy wagons, in boats on the trusty Tormes, on horseback and motorcycles, poised on roofs, circling overhead in helocopters. The local paper assures us NATO has anti-aircraft guns and cruise missiles and various aircraft christened for ferocious animals (cougars, as I recall, and some F these and F those) poised and at the ready. We're all a bit nervous.

200 streets are closed in the center of town (we can't possibly have many more) and a large part of the University is closed for a long weekend, which does make my strolling through town a bit like a walk down Main Street in the shootout scene of High Noon - deserted and deathly quiet. Until the helicopter pilot arrives overhead, of course, which inevitably he does. Every 5 minutes. Not a big place, Salamanca. They tell him to circle, he circles. Salamanca-sized circles. Him I won't miss.

Anyway, hopes are high for this summit - to be attended by all but a handful of Latin American heads of state, along with Spain's King and Queen, and the heads of state of Portugal and neighboring Andorra. They hope to tackle poverty and education, forge business deals and more firmly "connect" Spain and Portugal with their Latin American offspring, after a few years of drifting. Still, as the "day before" went on today, and Salamantino speculation mounted - "Will Castro come or no? Chavez says yes he will and together they will hold a public meeting in the streets of Salamanca - will you go, americana?" - I had Salamanca's famous refrain on the brain. The Spanish use it to sum up the realities of the gift of intelligence. Even Salamanca can't enlighten the unenlightened. Even Salamanca, beautiful, wise, culta, can't give the summit what it doesn't bring on its own.

But we can offer warm hospitality, an incredibly beautiful environment and damn good ham. And try the morcilla at the little bar tucked behind Sfera on Calle Toro, Sr. Chavez. You won't regret it.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

An afternoon in the stacks

An Afternoon In The Stacks

by Mary Oliver

Closing the book, I find I have left my head

inside. It is dark in here, but the chapters open

their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,

words adjusting themselves to their meaning.

Long passages open at successive pages. An echo,

continuous from the title onward, hums

behind me. From in here, the world looms,

a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences

carved out when an author traveled and a reader

kept the way open. When this book ends

I will pull it inside-out like a sock

and throw it back in the library. But the rumor

of it will haunt all that follows in my life.

A candleflame in Tibet leans when I move.

I fell in love with a poet today. The day´s post on Superhero Journal (see my sidebar) introduced me to Mary Oliver, and I just had to surf off in search of more. She beat the hell out of my day at work.

And now my mouth aches from grinning at An Afternoon in the Stacks and I have another all picked out for another day. This one was for the bookworms, growing fatter with every read............


Monday, October 03, 2005

Pictures today, words tomorrow

Weekend in Sevilla. Must sleep....

Sometimes it takes a week wandering with one of those rare and precious people with whom you can just be....to make you realize you don't spend enough time just being.

After a week with one of my favorite humans, the castellano is hurting (anybody seen my r's?) but the soul is flying.

And I'm prepared to reveal:

Reason 43

Wandering-Woman's 43rd reason to live in Spain:

Because in Sevilla....

People know how to spend time. (Click the photo for a better look.) Fans and a few good friends. Add fino and I'm sold.