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Una nota breve para recordar este fin de semana: Era maravilloso. Era un fin de semana lleno de "10" momentos. Altamente recomiendo que vayan de camping con canoa algun dia en su vida.
Fuimos al Rio Saco, en el estado de Maine. Alquilamos una canoa y un kayac de Northern Extremes en North Conway, New Hampshire. Remamos por tres o cuatro horas, entonces montamos el tienda. Al acabar de montar el tienda, una gigantesca nube negra vino hacia nosotros muy rapidamente. Deprisa pusimos todos nuestros equipos en la tienda. Tuvimos suerte.
Algunos "10" momentos:
-- Escuchando al trueno y la violenta tormenta en la comodidad de nuestra tienda.
-- Cocinando pasta debajo de un cobijo improvisado en la lluvia.
-- Remando por el rio tranquilo, oyendo la musica de flautas dulces tocadas por otros campistas, con una libelula aterrizada en la punta delantera de la canoa.
-- Mirando los halcones volando por lo alto.
A short note to remember this weekend: It was wonderful. It was a weekend full of "10" moments. I highly recommend that you go canoe camping someday in your life.
We went to the Saco River in the state of Maine. We rented a canoe and kayak from Northern Extremes in North Conway, New Hampshire. We paddled for three or four hours, then set up the tent. When we just finished setting up the tent, a gigantic black cloud came towards us very rapidly. We put our gear in the tent in a hurry. We were lucky.
Some "10" moments:
-- Listening to the thunder and violent storm in the comfort of our tent.
-- Cooking pasta under a makeshift shelter in the rain.
-- Rowing down the tranquil river, listening to the music of recorders played by other campers, with a dragonfly alighted on the front tip of the canoe.
-- Watching falcons flying overhead.
El pasado fin de semana, descubri "pino de vela" bolos (?). Tipicamente, no disfruto bolos mucho, porque mi bola siempre va en la alcantarilla y no es divertido. Pero con "pino de vela" bolos, a veces incluso cuando la bola vaya en la alcantarilla, todavia es posible ganar puntos.
En bolos regulares, la bola es grande y tiene tres agujeros en que se inserta sus dedos. En "pino de vela" bolos, la bola es del tamano de la palma, y no hay agujeros. Pienso que es mas facil dirigir la bola pequena, porque los agujeros en la bola grande desequilibran el angulo de la muneca.
En bolos regulares, los bolos tienen una forma como un reloj de arena. En "pino de vela" bolos, los bolos tienen una casi uniforme anchura.
La mejor parte de "pino de vela" bolos es que despues de cada tiro, la maquina no elimina los bolos derribados, pero los deja en la posicion supina. Si un bolo derribado esta obstruyendo la alcantarilla, una bola alli puede derribar otros bolos. Es mucho mas gratificante que bolos regulares para individuos (como yo) que no sean habiles en los bolos.
Si ustedes visitan a Boston y tienen un carro, recomiendo que vayan a Helado y Bolos de Vigesimo Siglo de Ron en Hyde Park. Los helados son caseros y deliciosos, y el lugar tiene un ambiente anticuado y autentico.
Last weekend, I discovered candlepin bowling. Typically, I don't enjoy bowling much, because my ball always goes into the gutter and it's no fun. But with candlepin bowling, sometimes even when the ball goes into the gutter, it is still possible to win points.
In regular bowling, the ball is big and has three holes into which you insert your fingers. With candlepin bowling, the ball is the size of the palm, and there are no holes. I think it is easier to aim the small ball, because the holes of the big ball throw off the angle of the wrist.
En regular bowling, the pins have the shape of an hourglass. In candlepin bowling, the pins have an almost uniform width.
The best part of candlepin bowling is that after each shot, the machine does not remove the knocked-over pins, but leaves them in a supine position. If a knocked-over pin is blocking the gutter, a ball there can knock over other pins. It is much more gratifying than regular bowling for individuals (like me) who are not good at bowling.
If you visit Boston and have a car, I recommend that you go to Ron's Ice Cream and Twentieth Century Bowling in Hyde Park. The ice creams are homemade and delicious, and the place has an old-fashioned and authentic feel.
I recall with happiness my trip to Andalucia, where I ate my favorite food, gazpacho. Here in Boston, it's a bit too early in the season for this delicious dish, because it's raining -- a big storm. I wish we could send the extra water from here to Spain, where there is now a drought.
Recently, when it was warmer, I made it. I mixed several recipes together, and it turned out well.
So, you need two pounds of fresh tomatoes (plum tomatoes), two cucumbers, one green pepper, an onion (or onion powder if your stomach has problems with raw onion), a clove of garlic, a bit of stale bread, salt, vinegar (I prefer red wine vinegar) and olive oil. Soak the bread in water. Cut the tomatoes (except one), one of the cucumbers, half of the green pepper, the onion and the clove of garlic into pieces. Using a blender or hand mixer, liquefy the mixture of vegetables and the bread completely. Add a cup of water, gradually; mix and taste it. Then add some pinches of salt little by little; mix it and taste it, then two teaspoons of vinegar. Taste it. When the levels of salt and vinegar are correct, gradually add four teaspoons of olive oil. Mix it and taste it. Serve it chilled, with a garnish of pieces of tomato, cucumber and green pepper.
Anoche lei el nuevo libro “Brooklyn Follies” por Paul Auster, un autor de Nueva York. No leo ficcion con mucha frecuencia, pero me divertio este libro muchisimo. Fue tan apasionante que me costo dejar de leerlo. Entonces, segui leyendo hasta el final del libro.
En una entrevista con el periodico El Pais, el autor Paul Auster dice que su novela es “un elegia a una forma de vivir que desaperecio de un plumazo el 11 de septiembre.” La historia es bellisima, y me pone nostalgica de ese tiempo y ese lugar. La novela sigue las vidas de cuatro personajes principales, que comienzan de circunstancias bastante descontentas – relaciones fracasadas, carreras fracasadas, decisiones descaminadas – luego encuentran felicidad en reestableciendo los vinculos de familia, amistad y amor. Al encontrarse, se aguarran el uno al otro y saborean el placer del momento.
Last night I read the new book “Brooklyn Follies” by Paul Auster, a New York author. I don’t read fiction very frequently, but I enjoyed this book very much. It was so gripping that I had difficulty putting it down. So, I continued reading until the end of the book.
In an interview with the paper El Pais, the author Paul Auster says that his novel is an elegy to a form of living that disappeared at a stroke on September 11th. The story is very beautiful, and makes me nostalgic for that time and place. The novel follows the lives of four principal characters, who start from rather unhappy circumstances – failed relationships, failed careers, misguided decisions – then find happiness in reestablishing bonds of family, friendship and love. Upon finding each other, they cling to one another and savor the pleasure of the moment.
From today, I am going to try to practice Spanish on my blog. Now I can read Spanish well, but listening, speaking and writing are more difficult. If you find errors, please do not hesitate to correct me.
Today I am going to write about one of my favorite topics -- food. About one month ago, a Mexican friend introduced me to the wonderful world of chilis. She showed me how to make a delicious dish using ground meat, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and chipotle. Chipotles are smoked and dried jalapenos. You can buy canned chipotles in many supermarkets.
Take a mixture of ground meats -- beef, pork and turkey -- whatever ground meat you have. Fry these meats with chopped onions. If there is a lot of liquid, drain it or boil it until it is gone. Then add ground cumin, salt and pepper, and mix.
Using a food processor or hand mixer, puree a large can of tomatoes with two chipotles from a can. Be careful, because if you use too many chipotles, you are going to suffer -- chipotles are very spicy. Put some of the tomato mixture in the meat mixture.
Chop potatoes, with or without peel, according to your preference. Put the potatoes in the tomato and meat mixture, and add water, if it is necessary in order to boil the potatoes. Boil until the potatoes are soft. Taste it and season according to your preference. Serve with tortillas or rice.
Yesterday and today, my friend and I went to see Master Diamond speak on the collapse of societies (the subject of his recent book) and thoughts he's formulated since then on avoiding collapse. Yesterday's talk was pretty much a summation of his book -- a framework of five factors that contribute to the collapse or survival of a society, applying these to Easter Island, Montana, Iceland, the Mayas and Native Americans of Arizona. These factors are environmental damage, climate change, enemies, friendly trade partners, and the ability of society to respond to its problems. He talked about how Easter Islanders over several hundreds of years shortsightedly cut down all their trees, the wood of which they used to help erect those mysterious and extremely heavy statues and to build canoes in order to hunt tuna and dolphins on the open seas.
After they cut down the last tree, they lost their ability to fish, had no friendly neighbors to whom to turn for help, had nowhere to which to escape, so they starved to near extinction. The example of Easter Island attracted the most interest, he said, for its similarities to Earth: we are isolated in this universe and have nowhere/nobody to turn to if we are careless in managing our resources and end up depleting them. He concluded by reminding us to remember above all else the number 32 -- i.e., the number of times of resources that first world nations consume over third world nations.
The topic of tonight's talk was his thoughts since writing Collapse comparing individual and society survival of crises. Drawing on his wife's clinical psychology background, he began talking about coping factors that enable crises victims to and survive. These were: the ability to fence in a problem and tackle it while preserving what's not problematic outside it, I guess, like compartmentalizing; "ego strength" or self-confidence/self-love, which he likened to cultural pride and preservation on the societal scale; flexibility/rigidity in adapting to deal with crises; exposure to of alternative models of coping or something like that; the ability to reappraise one's core values in order to cope with a crises; and a bunch of others in between that I can't remember. He interspersed societal examples rather than analyzing them systematically under these factors -- for instance, marveling at how a tribe of Papua New Guinea in first learning the existence of helicopters asked all sorts of questions about them, then quickly decided to charter their own in order to import birds of paradise from elsewhere and sell them in their own villages for a profit, yet maintaining their culture (wearing grass skirts) throughout. As for implications for our own society, he quoted Dick Cheney saying something to the effect that our core values as Americans were nonnegotiable -- implying that we ought to redress our rigidity, unwillingness/inability to adapt if we are to survive future crises.
Whether or not Diamond's approach is novel or earth-shattering, or he is repetitive or long-winded -- some criticisms made of him -- I find his problem-solving approach systematic, useful and applicable to many areas of life. Whether or not he is unique in doing so, I like very much that he puts "us" -- Americans and humankind -- to the same analyses as to societies in history, warning us of some fairly dire implications of our attitudes and behavior now while it is not too late for us to change course and take control of our destiny. Many of us are hard-pressed to think beyond our households, let alone our lifetimes. He would make a great advisor to leaders -- enlightening and shaping our policies to strategize and plan for the long-term -- alas, if only they would listen.
I recommend that you go see it should it come your way. After the end of its run in Cambridge, MA on November 20th, the show will be heading to New York.
Later that day, my travel companions and I took a walk through the gardens of El Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. The gardens had beautiful pools, flower beds and shrubs grown in interesting patterns.
Most impressive perhaps were the gigantic and dense cedar columns surrounding the gardens. Here they are pictured with statues of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella receiving Christopher Columbus on the eve of his departure for the New World.
What made our stay extra special was our late night walk through Cordoba's narrow, winding streets and happening upon a moderate-sized square, filled with people -- a free flamenco concert was taking place! As we grabbed seats, a male singer accompanied by a very skilled young guitar player belted out his pangs and passions, undoubtedly about his lost love. Next came a singing/dance quintet -- they clapped and stomped their feet to the sizzling music.
I was charmed by the intimacy of the event. In the back, I caught a glimpse of the fellow who was our waiter at Hostal Deanes, also enjoying the concert.
The next morning, before we left, we ate at another beautiful courtyard restaurant/guesthouse. We had a delicious breakfast of cafe con leche and toast with a meat spread that tasted very much like pureed soppressata, one of my favorite foods. One of my travel companions had a luscious apple tart that we all helped her devour.
I will never forget Cordoba, especially for the delicious gazpacho I ate there and the Andalusian cookbook that I bought! Until next time . . . I'll let your mouth water.
For the ceiling, we had the bright blue sky (see below), with a retractable tarp for rainy days (if there are any).
In the courtyard, they had a tapas restaurant, where I ate my first Andalusian gazpacho, perhaps my favorite food of all time. I love it so much that it deserves its own entry at a later date. Surrounding the courtyard are their very affordable and charming rooms -- all of five.
La Mezquita, the Great Mosque, began life as a Visigothic church in 780 A.D. It was then transformed into the religious center of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus in 987 A.D., and then was converted to a Christian church in 1253, after Cordoba fell to the Christians in 1236. There I saw for the first time the intricately designed geometric tiles of Moorish craftsmen, with some impressive, somewhat gaudy Christian craftsmanship as well.
I need to continue my tales of La Mezquita on another day, with lots of pics that I don't have the patience to upload now. Until next time . . .
They are all over the place. What a jackpot quarry the Pru builders hit! And the best part is . . .
. . . they're cephalopods! They're closest living descendant is the nautilus. With their swirling shells, from the outside they resemble snails. However, unlike snail shells, inside of the ammonite consists of distinct chambers. (You can see the chambers in some of the Prudential ammonite pictures here.) All of these creatures are molluscs. Apparently, both ammonites and nautiluses regulate the air in their chambers in order to float and swim. This page by Neale Monks of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London has a wonderful wealth of information on ammonites and nautiluses.
So even upon our man-made castles, Mother Nature leaves behind her indelible imprints.
From the bus, it looked like a little fuzzy dot making its way up the mountain. Thankfully, that was just about the right distance for my viewing comfort.
We proceeded along the highway and passed the Indian Head, New Hampshire's last remaining profile mountain after the demise of the Old Man.
We slowed down when we were approaching the various wallows by the side of the highway. Wallows are pools of mud and salt that is left over from the winter and washes to the side of the road during spring thaw. After a long, hard winter, the meese need to replenish their sodium levels and come to these mudpools to feed. It's best to look for meese at sunrise or dusk by the side of the highways.
We saw a scrawny female moose very intently licking up the salty mud at one of these pools. (She looked roughly like a donkey, similar to the one in this picture, only scrawnier).
After gazing at her for ten minutes or so, we decided to get out of the bus for a closer look. She began to leave, though very reluctantly. As soon as we made motions to board the bus, she returned to the wallow and continued to feed. After sundown, with Tony's spotlight, we managed to see a deer and a pair of other female meese.
Later we stopped at a small country store to fill up on snacks and fudge. While the door was open, in flew a cute little black bat!
The poor thing seemed kind of stressed out, frantically flapping its wings in search of the door. We left before the bat did.
That was a very exciting trip -- I hope that you will take the time someday to explore the treasures of the North Country!
(I think). The hike was beautiful and cool, although at some point the trail seemed to disappear and we found ourselves climbing up some steep and slippery rocks. It was well worth it though, because at the top we sat on a nice flat rock with a fabulous view of the waterfall. The crevices of the rock held some leftover rainwater, and bending over, you could see what looked at first like tiny little fish, only they whipped around in circles instead of swimming. After doing some internet research, it appears likely that these creatures were mosquito larvae. I'm glad we got there before they were flying around and sucking blood!
Later that afternoon we checked into a bed and breakfast, the Northern Star Inn. This place is great, because the innkeepers, Debbie and Jimmy, allow guests to use their kitchen facilities to make their own dinner. Their shelves were well-stocked with stacks of pots and pans, and although I tried, they wouldn't allow me to wash the dishes after I cooked up a storm of stuffed peppers. I highly recommend staying there. The rates are reasonable and the rooms are clean and charming. We awoke to the scent of sausage and bacon, and I even got to play their piano.
The next day, we did the two-mile circular hike at Flume Gorge.
It was fantastic, because there was this wood walkway that went alongside the waterfall and then over it. Here is a picture of Avalanche Falls:
Well I must be going to bed now. But I'll tell you more about my trip and brief encounter with New Hampshire wildlife tomorrow.
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