Monday, September 25, 2017

The Dogs of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara on the central California coast, has the Santa Ynez Mountains as dramatic backdrop, Spanish Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings with red-tile roofs, upscale boutiques and restaurants offering local wines and seasonal fare. There are two impressive botanical gardens, the Franciscan Mission, multiple art galleries and museums and many more attractions, not to mention the fabulous beach and coastline!
But, that's not what this post is about. It's about how, in an exclusive city like this one, dogs of all shapes and sizes are so welcome and seen everywhere, even in the poshest of places.

There are even doggie treats in the bank for that patient hound.

Dogs small and large are welcome to enter and shop.

Which ice-cream should we choose, Mom?

Friday, September 22, 2017


An awesome two hour two of one of the most stunning botanical jewels in the USA. We were fortunate to book a 10am limited tour of the 37-acre Montecito estate of Ganna Walska, a polish opera star from the 1920s. Walska created the gardens between 1940 and 1980s and we got to see al, but the Japanese Garden, which is being renovated. Just look at this list! Not only are there tropical and subtropical plants, but every imaginable plant in the following gardens:

Aloe garden, blue garden, bromeliads, Insectary Garden, cacti & euphorbias, cactus garden, cycad garden, Dracaena circle, fern garden, orchards, parterre, palmetum, shade palm garden, succulent garden, theatre garden, topiary garden, tropical garden, water garden, water stairs and cypress allée

Since it's so well photographed and featured in several YouTube publications, I decided to put down my camera and just enjoy the stroll and sights in Sara's company.

Well, this last video won't disappoint because it's the explanation of how a determined and very beautiful Ganna Walska walzed through a life of wealth and luxury by way of marriage and good fortune. She had 6 husbands. A few died and she divorced a few and her accumulated fortune as a result allowed her to create this extravagant garden masterpiece.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What Sunflowers Do

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It's what sunflowers do. -Helen Keller
Not thinking backwards nor forwards; just loving these bright yellow days of September's garden with my favourite sunflower.
#sunflower #girasoles #septiembre #september#sunshine #lompoc #daughterlove #helenkeller#visitagenial #daughtertime #fallbouquet

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Name That Beach

#secretbeach #rockart #mural #california #pacificcoast #iseeyou

Tour the Murals, Lompoc

Nestled in the Sta. Rita Hills of California Central Coast, Lompoc has been a comfortable, peaceful destination where When Sara has bought her first home I heard less than complimentary things about this sleepy town of 43,000+, mostly because it's just a little sister to upscale beauty, Santa Barbara, an hour drive south along Highway 1. But, I'm loving my stay and am pleasantly surprised by the town's quaint charm, which started the weekend I arrived with delicious coffee and tea choices from South Side Coffee Co. and browsing its numerous antique stores, and abounding art and murals. The Lompoc Mural Map from 2016 touts 36 city murals, but I'm sure by now there are more. This photo sampler shows just a few from Art Alley.

Feeding Time (2015) 122 W. Ocean Ave. (back south wall/ Art Alley) Artist Jeff Raum - Moorpark, CA

“Like beautiful flowers
Blossoming along a vine,
The Murals of Lompoc surprise
and delight residents and visitors
as they stroll the downtown area”
– Lompoc Mural Society

The Boatmen (2014) 112 South I St. (north wall/Sissy’s Uptown Café, in Art Alley)
Artist John Pugh (master of “trompe l’oeil”) - Truckee, CA

Fields of Gold (2004) 117½ South H St. • Mural In a Day (south wall)
Master Artist Colleen Goodwin Chronister (Salem, OR) with participating artists.

. Price of Freedom (2000) 125 South H St. - Pays tribute to all the men and women who served, fought and died in the 15 wars and conflicts of the 20th Century.
Artist Eliseo Silva - Corona, CA 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

El Reencuentro

Meeting again, Lía and me. Two old gals reunite and exchange Spanish kisses. We tell each other we're looking great for the couple of years that have passed since we last saw each other and pledge our admiration and affection until the next time.

Greyhound love. Seeing Lia and meeting Blanca for the first time.

#galga #reencuentro#greyhoundsofinstagram #greyhoundlove#greyhounds #greyhound#galgos112oficial #galgos #visita #yogalgo#carino #adoptanocompres #middleage#agewithgrace #brindle #vacaciones#besos

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Advanced Literature class in Spain, in Academia La Cocina Verde, getting ready for an excellent read a year ago. Now, fall just around the corner, we've read our way through season by season.
Just like excellent poetry, this isn't a book to be read from cover-to-cover, but rather savoured throughout the year, reading each entry like a delicious tidbit in its season, hence the well-named title. I love this prose. It as though I'm playing while reading, dancing between the lines and then lingering here and there to drink up the visual flavours and imagery of almost every word and phrase. 

Imagine this: 
"The sky seems like a watercolor love story." - Fireflies

"The air smells like spring seduced late summer and drenched the night in promises. Somewhere between possibility and substance, the evening hovers, a strange shade of autumn....
Amazing...astounding what fifteen minutes surrounded by the throb of another's heart can do for the equilibrium of a soul. Storms arrive and abate. The planet spins. And hearts beat." -

"End-of-summer rain traces the outline of the window panes next to me; damp trails glimmering beneath the slate clouds that seem to hover close enough to touch, should I stretch out my hand." 

"For that is the secret, isn't it. No matter how deep the pain, how unbearable it seems as it scrapes and tears and breaks our bodies, our dreams... our souls. No matter the wound, there is the balm of time. The bandage of memory, the antiseptic of grace." - Burns

I relish the Soup. It revives me, reminds me that the world is made of flesh and breath, not manufactured compounds (like that from a can) and synthetic fibers... For the truth of the Soup, the revelation, is that if you wait until 'it' is done - whatever your 'it' may be - you will miss out on the authentic happiness that is 'now'. We all have scuff and brokens and imperfects... but this is exactly what ties us together!" - Soup Afterglow

"We live, we love. We laugh and grieve and learn and grow. Life is a forge that burns away the surface, strengthens the core, and reveals the soul. This collection of essays and memories plunges through more than a decade of the beautiful struggle that is marriage and parenthood and finding one's self amidst the tangle of both. This journey weaves joy and sorrow, passion as well as isolation, into a tapestry that makes such an ordinary life, more splendid than its solitary threads."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I'm Off Then

A week after Sobrino Jake, 18, left on his "Camino" I picked up a book he had left unread behind and began a vicarious journey of sorts with him and Hape Kerkeling, the author of this book.
Because I live on the Camino this chronology of one sojourner's pilgrimage from town to town on his way to Santiago de Compostela, the Way of St. James, is especially relevant for me. It is interesting both because of proximity and also because of the hundreds of pilgrims that make their way through our little city of Astorga. I appreciate Kerkeling's humorous style of what might have otherwise been a dry journal-entry type of narrative. Instead it was quite charming and inspiring.

"In our Western world, which is practically devoid of spirituality, we suffer from a lack of ritual. The Camino is a ritual that offers a genuine opportunity to take up a challenge. Every one of us needs something to hold on to, but the only stability comes from letting go." - Hape Kerkeling

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer Baskets

Summer baskets, just waiting to be lifted off their rural home's pantry shelf and filled to the happy brim with delicious lunch items of choice. Maybe herbed cucumber sandwiches on fresh baked bread, season-ripened fruit, sweet wine and dark chocolate. These two lovely beauties have been abandoned here far too long and someone's simple joys of a quiet forest or waterside picnic have been forfeited by a litany of chores and other important business in modern life. What if we balanced our modern responsibilities and consistent productive use of time instead with a few hours enjoying a simple meal outdoors, stretching out afterwards on a blanket with a book or facing upturned to the clouds? Seeing these old items, a woven mule's pannier and two simple baskets, l'm left yearning for just that, a little escape, a little something more. How about you? When was the last time you slipped away to eat outdoors and where did you picnic? 
#antiquebaskets #antiques #baskets #cestos #maragateria #maragatos #alforjas #arrieros#picnic #verano #comehomewithme #packalunch#afternoonout

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Okuda San Miguel Gijón

The city's dingy greys and
hard look of constant human barrage, urban crowding and industrial pollution suddenly give way to a kaleidoscope of geometric colour. It's unexpected and visually thrilling. You've just spotted a work by Okuda San Miguel, the world's most colorful street artist, a Spaniard born in Santander and living in Madrid whose Surrealistic Pop Art carries social and political messages as well as captivates the eye.
Imagine, whizzing out of Gijón, I almost missed it, this particular, unassuming, but classic urban jewel, a geometric print and multicolored pattern on an old building, just like other patterns across old warehouses, lost railways, factories that started to become recognizable and iconic in Spain since 1996.
I only began to take note a year ago and have become an enamored fan. Okuda San Miguel now has work in major cities across the globe.
"These pieces of artwork often raise contradictions about existentialism, the universe, the infinite, the meaning of life, and the false freedom of capitalism. They help ignite conversations about the clear conflict between modernity and our roots."
"Sus trabajos a menudo plantean contradicciones sobre el existencialismo, el universo, el infinito, el sentido de la vida, la faja libertad del capitalismo, y muestran un claro conflicto entre la modernidad y nuestras raíces; en definitiva, entre el ser humano y él mismo." #okudasanmiguel #gijon #inkandmovement #okudart #surrealismopop #santander #bellasartes # ##UniversidadComplutensedeMadrid #geometrico #multicolores

Okuda Links:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Blood Tattoos and Things Moms Do

It's summer and everyone seems to be sporting a new tattoo and matching mom-daughter, mom-son tattoos are supposedly the new cool trendy sign of bondedness and unity. I'm glad not to be too left out of the loop since at least one of my four kids has sweetly suggested that we get one. I've considered. I really have. My honest answer, however, is that my legs are already tatted up in a most individual way. My left leg is a particularly great work of art. I used to hide it when possible, shyly avoiding clothes that might draw attention to the intricately decorated canvas of spider and ropey purple-blue varicose veins.
More recently, though, I've decided to share the artistry of motherhood that life has gifted me, if not flaunting it, I can at least wear it dignified and proud.
When you're pregnant your uterus grows and puts pressure on the large inferior vena cava on your body's right side. This increases pressure on your legs. The blood vessels that are already working against gravity, returning blood from your extremities to your heart, swell and protude. Sometimes they are less visible or disappear after your pregnancy, but more often they stay patterned on your skin as a forever reminder that you are and will always be different after having a baby.
If you have just one child you may not get to sport off much, but after four, believe you me, you have bragging rights. You have living tattoos to show off for the rest of your life, a permanent scrapbook of memories physically awarded you for your bravery and strength for carrying those precious little ones inside you to birth.
Thus, my varicose veins are my personal tattoos, my scars, the marks of motherhood that remind me every morning and night as I dress and undress the huge sacrifice I paid. I consider my scarred legs beautiful reminders that it was so worth it in the end, to blood ink my legs in order to bring my four unique daughters and sons into this world. I'm celebrating my scars now and what really matters.
#realmoms #worthit #varicoseveins #motherhood #inkedlegs #bravery #scars #postparto #postpartum #maternidad #whatreallymatters #celebratingmyscars #thedopesttattoo #tattoo

Your vulnerability is
embellished with your truth.
Wear it proudly.
- Harpreet M Dayal

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

De Compras

Cascanueces, Bario Húmedo, León
Una tienda especializada en regalos originales y exóticos, así como prendas de vestir de moda y étnicas. After trying a a multicoloured assortment of summer dresses, I finally decided on treating myself to the second on the left.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Book of Beauty

"...The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live..." - Richard Jefferies
A Book of Beauty; An Anthology of Words and Pictures, compiled in London ten years before I was born. Two hundred and fifty classic works of art and illustrations and a two-page index of authors and composers, it appears this is one of a series of six books; Book of Delights, Love, Pleasures, Joy, and of Britain. A lovely gift by a lovely visitor, it was once purchased and signed by someone with exquisite penmanship in 1962 as a Christmas present to herself, something that makes me smile and further endears this book to me. The perfect bedside book.
#vintageprints #vintagebooks #JohnHadfield #beauty #london#Wordsworth #Yeats #tselliot #Browning #Shelley #FrancisBacon #poetry#prose

Friday, July 7, 2017

Our CLIL Summer Course Really Started in Sacramento

When coaching teachers I always go back to this year that changed my life and the book that transformed my teaching, To Teach Like a Champion. Now, together with bilingual methodology, I'm sharing those techniques specific to second language acquisition classrooms in Spain. These two weeks in León, our CLIL workshop is turning out to be the most rewarding ever with such creative application and execution of champion practices by my students, Spanish content area ( geography, history, music, math, science, ...) teachers, who are motivated and planning the next school year.
#ThrowbackThursday #TeachLikeAChampion #douglemov #nooptout#positiveframing #rightisright #circulating #uncommonschools #clil#secondlanguageacquisition #languagemodalities#educationintheuropeanunion #higherorderthinkingskills #HOTS#sacramentocharterhighschool #SLANT

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Work is a Holiday in León

It's called work, and the truth is, that the preparation and teacher training hours are intense.
Still, I wait longingly all year for these two weeks I come to teach and live in León!

The first evening in León, Sunday before the CLIL Teacher Training workshop Monday morning, Enrique and I stumbled upon the Gastronomical Food Truck Fair, Feria Gastronómica de Food Trucks. Vintage flea-market - Mercadillo vintage.
Jardín de San Francisco. Come y Calle León, Fiestas de San Juan y San Pedro.

The second day I made my way into the heart of the Barrio Romántico to El Patio, where I always order this salad of canónigos, a kind of round-leaf lettuce greens, cherry tomatoes, roasted gourmet goat's cheese and tomato marmalade dressing.
Plaza Torres de Omaña, 2, 24003 León

Que Trabaje Rita, cocktail and tapa bar where teacher friend and I met after class for a Mojito Light (poco cargado) and a Kiwi Shake.

Solo today and happy to find a vegetarian option: Gazpacho, vegetable empanadas on dressing glazed greens, fresh baked bread and apple stuffed crepes drizzled with chocolate.
Mercado Restaurante & Bar ,Calle las Varillas, 3, 24003 León