a wandering woman writes

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Well, I have 4 minutes to make my first Poetry Thursday on time. It's 23:57.

And after the week I've had, of change, of the end of one chapter and the start of another, of immigration forms and business plans and workplace goodbyes that feel much more permanent that any of us will admit to,

after that week I knew I wanted Frost for Poetry Thursday. I've had a line from Directive running through my head:

Back out of all this now too much for us

as I've raced around all week, but Directive, a beautiful poem too long for this post (but you will go read it, won't you?) by this Thursday midnight has settled down and led me back to another Frost, a poem that feels like it's been with me forever. If it feels a little out of season, well, it isn't:


Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

by Robert Frost

So there, a double dip of Frost!
If you don't know Poetry Thursday, surf over and check it out. You can post your own poems, or a favorite poem by someone else, or just write a post about poems...or.....

I'll be doing it here every Thursday. (Hmmm and maybe in Spanish some, if I am really going to share favorites... )


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A wise woman, well dressed

Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.

Katharine Hepburn

I spent my corporate life trying to dress like her. ("Power Hepburn", I called it.) I just stumbled across this piece of brilliant Kate today. I like it even better than all those man-cut trousers I gave up with the mahogany desk.



Didn't I use to have a blog?

Oh dear. If a tree falls in a deserted blog nobody bothers to visit any more, does it make any sound?

I'll be back sooner than you think, I promise. This limping wandering woman officially throws away the work and residency permission she used to dream about this week, only to trade them in for what the Spanish call "autonomy" (oh yes, yes, give me some of that..) All of which has hopefully conjured up an image of me frantically reminding a Spanish company I really am leaving Friday, and might they want to just visualize Monday for just one minute, just this once, just in case....by considering who will do this? and that?

Meanwhile, I have met the loveliest stamp-wielding, paper spinning funcionarios and moved nearly every cent I have to Spain, just to prove I'm serious, apparently. Autonomy for foreigners comes at the price of a large Spanish bank account............

I always knew there was a price.


Sunday, May 14, 2006


Doing all the work for my trip to Ireland with my brother is well worth the trouble.

And not only because the poor boy will miss every major Irish tourist attraction as I mercilessly drag him through the rural West, in search of traditional music, spoken Irish, Grace O'Malley and WB Yeats.

What makes it a pleasure to plan a trip for my brother is the little surprise I found tucked inside the envelope in which he forwarded me the maps and B&B guides.

An autographed copy of the new CD by Duke Robillard: Guitar Groove-a-rama.

I've hardly surfaced since I popped the CD in the player Friday afternoon. It has been, quite frankly, a Groove-a-rama weekend.

If you don't know Duke Robillard, check out a few Groove-a-rama tracks here or here, and read about the man here. (May I recommend you taste: "Cooking", the tune he used to open sets with back in my Duke following days, "No Way Out", the funkiest "Danny Boy" you are likely to (ever) hear, and "Blues a Rama", an incredible 16 minute one-take tribute, guitarist by guitarist to the players and styles that influenced a young Robillard. It's an amazing cut.)

Duke is the soundtrack of my 20s. I first heard him in the early 80s at the Last Call Saloon, a fabulously small basement bar in what was then an out of the way neighborhood in downtown Providence. My cronies and I had wandered in to the Last Call, famous for closing late, just to get a few extra hours in after the dance clubs closed. Within weeks we'd given up dance clubs for the blues.

I have a few Duke CDs, but I've always felt like he lost something on them. He was just one of those musicians I'd have said you had to catch live.

Til I heard Groove-a-rama.

I feel like I just spent an evening sitting around the man's living room, listening to him pick up one guitar after another, showing me what each can do. This is an intimate, cozy CD, the work of a man celebrating a lifetime he's had a hell of a good time with.

What do I miss today? It's a repeat; I know I've said this more than once here. Today I miss swaying with a crowd, tapping my rings on a bottle of beer in a tiny blues bar.


Cleaning crew

Fat little birds are cleaning my terraza as I sit working at my laptop.

Nice of them, really, considering the ankle.

Somewhere, up on the roof across the yard, perhaps, I sense a nest in need of Spring repair. I can't see it, but I can watch my cleaning crew disappear into the gutter and the galley between the terracotta roof tiles. Later they reappear to play a while on the edge of the roof on their side of the courtyard before getting back to work on mine.

From my desk, I look out a huge, high window onto the terraza. For two days, I have enjoyed a nonstop typing-hours stage show. A steady parade of chubby birds has paused to pose on the railing facing me, sometimes for as long as 5 or 6 minutes. They stand, they bounce, they twist and strut, each holding high a freshly snatched branch or a delicate white feather. They've even carried off some of the annoying white fuzz that floats in from some tree or another along the river bank this time of year and coats everything in sight, including my laundry, my door and my unsuspecting plants. Well, and me, if I linger on the terraza.

I'm curious about the obligatory stop on the rail in front of my window. Are my sweet, feathered neighbors asking permission to carry away my debris? Could they be gloating, cruelly showing off their spoils? Or are they celebrating and resting in their glory just a minute, a bit like me when I like something I've finished?

I worry if I get close enough I'll recognize the silent longing I've spotted in the eyes of more than one nonfeathered neighbor this week. An unspoken but perfectly delivered Spring question, eyes roaming round the all-but-bare terraza, pausing momentarily at the stacks of upturned terracotta pots still wintering in the far corner before coming back, slowly, to rest in mine:

"And the garden? When?"

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

A mighty kindness

Zero Circle
by Rumi

Be helpless, dumbfounded
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.

We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
If we say we can, we're lying.
If we say No, we don't see it,
that No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.

So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.

Picked up from Andrea at Superhero Journal, who always seems to hit me on just the right day.


Chromasia Photoblog

This you must see.

Pour tea, wine, whatever and browse these thumbs.

Is this photo from just a few days ago my favorite?

Hmmmm.....I don't know. Why do I love this so?

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Thursday, May 11, 2006


Back tomorrow with Astorga and León. My absolute-I-swear-and-nothing-can-persuade-me-otherwise final (part time) day at work is May 26. In what I hope will be the courageous last stand of any remnant of my overachieving corporate self, I'm busy ensuring that I've done everything I ever wanted to do at the company, have left everything immeasurably better than I found it, have anticipated every possible future complication, and have left my beloved favorites (yes, all right, I have them) perfectly positioned to take over the world on my departure. All of that in 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. It may be ambitious, I am not sure.

Meanwhile, a word of advice.

Should you ever decide it's time to sprain an ankle, I'd recommend you sprain it in Spain.

I have extensive experience spraining ankles, and I can assure you, it's almost worth the injury for the comfort. In Spain, that is.

I have yet to say the word "esguince" (sprain) to anyone without the immediate response: What do you need? Do you have enough to eat? Shall I do your grocery shopping? Cook? Here, I thought I'd stop by with a gorgeous yellow plant. Where do you need me to drive you?

I don't mean to suggest that no one ever offered in the States, but it's the instinctive reflex of the reaction. I have to believe I have Spanish mothers to thank for this. Lesson number 12 in year 13 of Growing Up Spanish and Well Educated must be "buy groceries for the less-than-well." I've had the same experience everytime I've owned up to the sniffles.

I knew it was instinctive when an employee who's been battling me all week (as part of her cosmic mission to teach me patience and serenity) stopped dead in her Messenger tracks and asked me what I needed and what time she should arrive.

If you must sprain, I tell you, sprain in Spain.



You may have to be my side of 40 to appreciate this, but it made my day:

Chatting on the phone with a fellow 43 year old about yet another 43 year old who checks in for heart surgery to correct a leaky valve today, I found myself confused when she told me that our mutual friend, the patient, was just a little concerned about her doctor. She's been told he's the best in Chicago, and one of the best in the States, but she's a little shaken after meeting him face to face.

Less than confident that he's had the requisite experience.

After all, she confided, "he's only our age."


I knew there was a reason she was my friend.


What does LA have that Salamanca lacks?

Uniquely qualified jobseekers and hmmm, interesting job opportunities.

Spent some time checking out the resumes (jobs wanted) section of Craigs List -Los Angeles to help out a friend's staffing firm today:

Mob Movie Extra

Behind this headline, our candidate, freshly moved to LA from Boston, lets us know that he has "extensive personal experience in underworld lingo and activities". While he doesn't have any experience as a movie extra, he promises he's a quick study.

Young Strong Man with Truck -I was afraid to read further.

Pretty Young Italian Girl

Seeking Long Lasting Career in Porn Industry -Ahem.

Hot Professional Record Producer -Running a "job wanted" ad on Craig's List.

Tree Climber -What exactly does a tree climber do once he's up there? Anyone know? I'd love the tree climbing part, but once I get there, what? If it's save cats and baby birds or better yet, just sit there, maybe munch on an apple, I'm in.

Mark Twain Samuel Clemens -Mark Twain, not the original, we assume, available for monologues, speeches, dinners...


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Palacio Episcopal, Astorga

Gaudi's Palacio Episcopal in lovely Astorga, population 12,275.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Longing and Wishing

It seems to me we can never give up longing and WISHING while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

George Eliot


The other side of the Tormes

I've been cruelly wrenched from the post office workers I've grown so fond of, at the central post office on the Gran Vía. Between my mother and Amazon, we've spent quit a bit of time together.

But Saturday, after turning the office upside down without uncovering a single package labelled "Corcoran", my trustiest Correos pal checked the computer, then gently broke the news.

My package had been sent to the new Post Office branch in San José, a neighborhood I've never even visited.

A neighborhood across the river.


I grumbled, but the Correos men on the other side of the Tormes were just as talkative, and, in the end, crossing that bridge I never cross gave me a lovely view back home.

Question, Spaniards: I could swear he said "por algún arroz" when he told me the package was in San José. "Por algún arroz, lo han llevado allí."
¿Se dice? ¡¿Por algún arroz?!
It's just that I love it, but I've never heard it. Maybe I'm losing my ears.


Hit and Run Blogging

Hit and Run today.

There's a bus to catch, and of course, this being my wonderfully slow if less than efficient Salamanca, I was hit with a warm (if stern) "No se puede" when I tried to buy my bus ticket for today, yesterday. Apparently that's cheating. It's a tiny bus company and I am headed to a tiny town, so I'll start my trip in a long line at the ticket window an hour before the bus leaves the station.

Another plug for kiva. I know I won't quit with it, but good ideas just turn me on. I wandered over today to check on my loanees, and the page is full of new entrepreneurs you can loan as little as $25, in Honduras (does seem to be a run on new clothing stores in Honduras, the marketer in me worries about competition..) and Bulgaria and Cambodia and Uganda...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stephen Colbert

I have to link to this video from the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Isn't there some story about the Jester being the only fool with the courage to speak?

Leave time to catch it all - the video's 2nd and 3rd part are to the right.

From Pato.


My fellow wandering woman sailed over and discovered the video had been removed for copyright infringement, which I find curious. Can't imagine Colbert doesn't want it out there. Who's got the copyright? CSPAN?

Anyway, shhhhh, real quiet like:

Here's a fabulous transcript and links to copies still online.

And here you'll find it live and running fine for me in Windows Media Player.

Whether he was funny or not, (the mainstream media says no, says that's why they barely covered it), whether you agree with him or not (I applauded), you have to salute the man's dos cajones, to borrow Pato's phrase. And if you like to find creative ways to get a point across, you have to love the first part of his speech.

Sorry I've been AWOL this week. I'll try to get back here later today. Meanwhile, I'm headed to Astorga and León for the weekend. Tips, anybody?


Monday, May 01, 2006

Day off

This immigrant has chosen to take today off.

But she does have a beef.

El Páis sent me into panic yesterday, left me frantically calling my mother and a friend in the States to reassure myself that the majority of Americans weren't vilifying and scorning immigrants (they're not), and that it looked liked the work permits and normalization would pass in some version (it does) and that, no, the majority of Americans do not believe making illegal immigrants felons is the answer to anything. Nor is this only about Hispanics, who make up 50% of the immigrant population in Chicago, for example. (75% in the whole country.) Honestly, El País had me thinking there was a Spanish speaking - English speaking war breaking out.

Then I read the BBC and El Mundo and the NYTimes and, best of all, the Chicago Tribune, all of whom bothered to mention the businesses that closed or moved today's work to Saturday, the hard working immigrants who asked for the day off, nice and professional like, to attend the march and were supported by their employers, the Polish and Russian and Asian and Irish immigrants marching alongside Latinos in Chicago, the girl with "I am an American" sign written in Kurdu, and the mainstream Chicago politicians, our Senator and Congressmen along with city's Catholic Cardinal, who were speaking at this anything but anarchic rally today. Not to mention the immigrant and Latino organizations that suggested NOT skipping work, and NOT boycotting, but simply attending a peaceful march, since a confrontational march or day's strike might do more harm than good, and might be better saved for when, and if, it's needed.

I breathed easier after my news cruise.

And took the day off.

Pictures are the Huerto (orchard) of Calixto and Melibea, in Salamanca, yesterday morning. Feels like summer here, even if the roses are still teasing us, all around town, just barely budding.