Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's on Your Nightstand?

This is a monthly feature of 5 Minutes for Books. I have never participated, but this time felt the urge. So here is what I am currently reading or hope to read in the not too distant future.

Whenever hubby and I drive anywhere together, I tuck away a book in my bag to read to him at every opportunity. It took us a few months to finish The Cave by José Saramago. I don't know how long it will take us for the current volume, A Valley of Betrayal by Tricia Goyer. Depends on how many long road trips we take I suppose. I first read a review of the book on 5 Minutes for Books and immediately purchased it online. The subtitle, Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War, is what caught my attention. I have been aware of how the impact of that period divides the history of Spain like a watershed, but have never known much about it and much less been able to truly understand that war. That is why I am interested in this historical novel. I learned that it is only the first in a series. A deep subject indeed.

I just realized it is a Moody publication. We just visited Moody Bible Institute a few days ago. While there we had a tour of the institution and viewed a wall of famous alumni and another of those who have gone out as missionaries. All who were martyred for their faith are marked with an asterisk. We were told there was a book available, a collection of stories of martyred alumni. I was immediately interested, so we purchased A Martyr's Grace at the bookstore. Dwight L. Moody was asked once, "Have you grace to be a martyr?" His answer was, "No, but if God wanted me to be one, He would give me a martyr's grace." (p 11)

The book that is really next to my bed is Remembering Your Story: Creating Your Own Spiritual Autobiography which is very much what I want to do. That will be a slow read as well. So, honestly, I have no idea when I will be back to report on my reading progress.

Hasta entonces  (Until then) Happy reading journey to all my fellow readers!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Holy Week

Week 17: Semana Santa

It has been a very full and fun week that seemed to accelerate and gain intensity.

Palm Sunday, a good quiet day that ended with a wonderful concert by Taylor Sounds and a reception with Mariachi music after.

 One of the musicians came over and asked for special requests from our table. I think he liked that I spoke Spanish.

Monday, Chef-son was back from the Nantional Ice Carving Association tradeshow (he is the current president) and they were wearing the new logos. Can you recognize the main tool of an ice carver?

Tuesday in senior's exercise class we took lots of silly pictures.

Wednesday, after a night of severe storms, half the town had no electricity. Ours was back by morning, but school was canceled and the library was closed which meant writer's group could not meet. The unexpected gift of time was used to prepare for the busy days ahead and the trip to Chicago.

Maundy Thursday--Chicago here we come!
Irati is a Basque teenager who came with the group two years ago. Last June we spent one day in her beautiful town--Oñati. She is visiting her host family in our area during her three-week Easter break. We took her to see the windy city. I realize that descriptor originally referred to the many politicians and their much talk. However, both days it was indeed windy, and cold.
We toured Moody Bible Institute and spent the night with my delightful cousin who is a beloved prof there.

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset
The first and urgent shopping stop was to get out of the wind and find a hat for Irati's sensitive ears. The only suitable one and within a decent price range was the boina (beret), very common in Basque Country! She did not like the looks; we thought it was stunning on her.

We walked the Magnificent Mile, saw the main icons (the Bean; the Willis Tower--the tallest building, used to be Sears), sat and sipped tea in the restaurant of the Art Museum, rode the L train, and dined Peruvian food.  All in one afternoon.

La Habichuela (The Bean)


Good Friday was rainy and cold. We stayed in all morning and enjoyed conversation with cousin Rosie, while Irati slept.

Then after lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant, in one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods, we went to the nearby Loyola University campus for the Celebration of the Passion service in the Chapel.

The music was beautiful and the Scripture readings very meaningful.
Inclement weather forced us to shorten our visit to this prestigious university of Basque origin.

So we left Chicago grateful for the one good sunny day.

Saturday I cleaned and prepared food for two big days.
Upendra (Indian friend who stayed with us for several weeks two years ago) was visiting from New York and introduced us to his wife and new baby.

Sathya and Upendra Kumar
Rita meets Caleb David Kumar

South African friend, Chris (lived with us a few months some three years ago) came with his wife too. They live in Muncie.

Chris and Rachael Le Roux
Stephan and Karen were here as well. All four of us couples shared the stories of how we met our spouses. 

What a full and exciting week! And there's more to come! Sunday's a comin'!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 16

This week I was more intentional about a photo-a-day.
Sunday afternoon on a short walk I spied striking little white flowers peeking out of the forest floor.

Meanwhile Mike rode 84 miles on his second outing of the new cycling season.

Monday Kayla and Skye were both here after school. She picked an armload of daffodils and made up two or three bouquets to give away.

Earlier it had rained, ball practice was called off for our Muncie grandkids so they joined us at Monday Meal! I got my grandma fix but no photos! How did that happen?

Tuesday--a snapshot of Skye working, still gathering logs and stacking branches.

Then he made a pancake meal on his own!

Wednesday another typical Skye-after-school snack--a big bowl of cereal, leftover pancake and french toast. Oh, and always followed by lots of ice cream.

Thursday, and most days this week--taxes!

Mike will be much happier once tax day is over!

Friday, he's having fun at the Red Barn, and so is Kayla.

Saturday, was the first annual Barton Rees Pogue Indiana Poetry and Arts Festival. I attended a short zumba workshop and then one on writing poetry, saw an art exhibit featuring nine local artists and then the award program in the afternoon. Our own Center Stage dancers performed, among others.

So, it's been a good week. For me one of intense focus on photos and memories, processing hundreds of pictures--rescued slides from my parents, and many old photos of our family years ago. Another project that I chip away at each week is the Adventures in Europe posts, about our trip last summer. I hope to finish that travel series before this summer!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gernikako Arbola

The Tree of Gernika

The next must-see in Gernika was the famous oak tree, so that's where we headed.

For hundreds of years, ever since the Middle Ages, it was customary for the town leaders or representatives to conduct official business under a large local tree.  The Gernika assembly grew in importance and in 1512 superseded all others in Biscay. Over time its oak tree acquired great symbolic significance.
Under the old oak tree the  fueros (rights and privileges of the Basque people) were sworn to be upheld. Only then were the Lords of Bizkaia recognized as such. When overtaken or annexed by outside powers or kingdoms, they required of those leaders to swear an oath to respect the foral laws of their people. Two outstanding examples were King Ferdinand of Castile in 1476 and later Carlos de Borbón in 1875.
The trunk of the "old tree"
The "father tree" lived 450 years, dating back to the 14th century. Since then a whole dynasty of oak trees lives on. The trunk of the second one (1742-1892) is preserved as a historical monument.
The third oak survived the bombing of Gernika, protected by armed guards, but later succumbed to a fungus and had to be replaced. The government gardeners always grow spare trees from the acorns. As a friendship gesture descendants have been gifted to other Basque cities and diaspora groups. I was surprised to learn that there is an offshoot oak tree in my Buenos Aires, at the "Laurak Bat" Basque club!

The current live oak tree in Gernika was planted in 2005 in place of the parent tree, however it only plays a symbolic role. The general assemblies no longer meet under the tree but rather in the parliament house (1833) seen behind.

I am not sure whether one of these photos pictures the current reigning heir.

William Wadsworth understood the almost-sacred significance of the Oak of Gernika. April being National Poetry Month, I will include his sonnet.

OAK of Guernica! Tree of holier power

Than that which in Dodona did enshrine

(So faith too fondly deemed) a voice divine

Heard from the depths of its aerial bower--

How canst thou flourish at this blighting hour?

What hope, what joy can sunshine bring to thee,

Or the soft breezes from the Atlantic sea,

The dews of morn, or April's tender shower?

Stroke merciful and welcome would that be

Which should extend thy branches on the ground,

If never more within their shady round

Those lofty-minded Lawgivers shall meet,

Peasant and lord, in their appointed seat,

Guardians of Biscay's ancient liberty.
Another lengthy poem by Basque bard Jose Maria Iparraguirre celebrates the tree and the Basque freedoms it stands for. Bearing the title "Gernikako arbola" it has become the unofficial anthem and is often referred to as the Marseillaise of the Basque people.

In the town square we came across a commemorative statue of the famous bertsolari. Alberto pointed out the plaque and explained why the poet was being honored; Laurie admired the likeness, and Mike attempted different artistic photographic angles.

For the complete lyrics go to Gernikako arbolaand to hear a very good rendition of go here, or click on the video.

The oak tree symbolism appears in many of the Basque emblems:

Coat of Arms of the Basque Country

Arms of Biscay
The green saltire (diagonal cross) of the Basque flag is a reference to the tree and the traditional laws it represents.

The impact of that brief visit to Gernika deepens as I learn more and more. In this segment I see the strength of a very ancient culture that fights for its freedoms and keeps the memories alive.

To be continued...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Week 15

Each week on Project 365, our photo-a-day project, we post pictures that represent a slice of our lives. We, the participants, enjoy and appreciate this exercise because it helps us keep a record of what goes on in our lives as well communicate and stay connected with many loved ones or like-minded people. Sara at ...make music from your heart to the Lord. Eph. 5:19 hosts this particular project.

Life is made up of the routine, over-and-over-type things, and the distinct ones that mark each day. We try to portray some of each every week. I don't worry too much about having one photo for every single day. Here's the mix Week 15.

We see deer quite regularly, but never as close to the house as this week.

We counted six right below the house. Then Mike went out and scared them away, though not intentionally.

Knowing that the grounded grandson was to come here after school, Mike spent part of every day this week cutting down trees. The clearing will hopefully work for a shade-free garden down below next to the house. (Notice the row of daffodils in the back right.)

Here is the 'groundee' on the left, phoning Grandpa because he could not get the 4-wheeler started. His controlling kind sister helped him for awhile. They were soaked.
(How do you like the various reflections as I snapped this picture through the glass door of the solarium-cum-pottery studio?)

As is our Monday routine, we had dinner at son Stephan's who was looking very 'chefly' that night. He was testing Colombian recipes for a wedding he may be catering in the summer. The consensus was--delish!

ajiaco, arepa y ensalada
It so happens that the groom was one of my students last semester. You can understand why he is so motivated to learn Spanish--his novia is from Colombia!

Mike continues doing pottery with the young folk at the Red Barn three afternoons a week. It's a good thing we were sick during spring break so he did not have to miss these fun times.

These are my new glasses. My old rimless, lightweight, spring-frame ones broke and were irreplaceable. Nobody has said anything. I don't know whether they look bad or are such a good fit that no one notices.

Friday we were invited to a special event--a memorial chapel and luncheon to honor the memory of Rick Seaman. The beautiful salad is only symbolic of the wonderful time with our friend Joanne and others remembering the legacy of her late husband.

Then back home to the many ongoing projects. Everywhere I look there is something in progress. I keep busy going from one to another and am never bored. As an example, I show you this table in the solarium. I am going through years of correspondence with a prisoner whose wife I befriended in Uruguay in the '80s when the ship we lived and worked on, the M/V Doulos, visited Montevideo. It has been very interesting to revisit the story of their lives in hopes of reconnecting and making a difference. I was able to visit Elena during my most recent trip to South America.

Notice the spring flowers. I picked only the ones with bent stems or weighed down touching the ground and gathered enough for two vases this size and a bouquet for the neighbor.

One more detail in the photo: the cat wants in--his scratching to get in is a constant routine.

We finished off the week tonight by going to the monthly musical evening at the Gray Barn. A very good blue grass band caters to the likes of us older folk.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Gernika (euskera, Basque)/Guernica (español, Spanish)

The ongoing story of our visit to Basque Country.

Alberto, our host and guide, had so much that he wanted to show us--the must-sees of Basque Country-- so we covered a lot of territory on that Thursday, June 10th. With each outing we traveled a little further. On this day, after the hospital visit, we entered another province, Bizkaia/Viscaya. Our first stop was the famous historic city of Gernika/Guernica.

When I was a Spanish language teacher, I became familiar with the widely-known Picasso mural, the "Guernica". It appeared in nearly all of our textbooks. As we walked around the city that day last June, we came across a mosaic replica.

I have read that the inscription underneath is a form of protest, but I do not understand the meaning of the suffix to explain or translate it. The locals maintain that the original Picasso ought to belong to their city, however, it is currently housed in the national museum of modern art, the Reina Sofía, in Madrid. There is a campaign going on right now toward that end, and as of today they have 9,600 signatures.

Picasso's "Guernica" depicts the atrocities of war--the death and suffering of women, children and animals--and was prompted by the bombing of Gernika, on market day, seventy four years ago this month, 26th April, 1937.

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is a dark period of history that is seared on the consciousness of the Spanish people. What I had not realized before was how harshly it had impacted the Basque people. It is a horribly gruesome story. Alberto related how at one time he had begun to read a book about it and could not finish it nor will he ever understand how and why such could happen.

To be continued...