The name of the Rose

A dear friend from my reading group in the library, in La Calzada, Gijón (as Greenock to Edinburgh, so La Calzada to Oviedo) encouraged me to post this. So here it is.  With apologies for an unoriginal title.

The name of the Rose
Two qualities which poets fail to remark
in writing of the rose
are her close kinship to the briar
-as tough as old roots –
and her liking
for a bed
of manure.

El nombre de la Rosa
Dos cualidades
que los poetas
pasan por alto
al escribir sobre la rose
son su vinculo estrecho con la zarza,
fuerte como raizes viejas,
y el gusto
por un lecho
de cuchu.

a musical advent calendar

Light the way, Asturias by Toli Morilla

There´s a stereotype about English punctuality here in Spain, with which I don´t conform. So I´m starting my musical Advent calendar on the 7th of December, and intend to share with you each day a convincing musical argument for why Gijón, Asturias, Spain is such a great place to be.

First off, Toli Morilla´s “Alluma´l to Camin” – I need a little help with the translation before I risk it here – one of his most deeply-felt songs about this beautiful land and the struggle of its people to survive.

Toli is one of the most influential singer-songwriters and interpreters of contemporary Asturian music.  He sings in the Asturian language and Spanish, and has Bob Dylan´s permission to sing translations in Asturian, as you will hear later.

Enjoy the Advent Calendar!

artist solidarity

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “We Built This City.”

I´m thinking of my friend Mabel, painter, illustrator, cartoonist and all-round excellent visual artist, who is in a group of artists, who meet weekly to dine and talk. They exhibit together, in community centres and libraries where they can´t sell, and each time I visit one of their exhibitions I´m amazed by the quality and variety of their work. I´m sure some of them can and do sell privately, in so far as anyone can, in Spain´s current economic climate. But for me, in their commitment to their work and their collective support for one another, they are world leaders.
This was what immediately sprang to mind in response to today´s prompt. But then something else happened, on the way up to listen to a jazz gig (free) in a favourite bar – another of the outstanding examples of a supportive community. I went into the foyer of a bank to get money out, and while I was doing that a middleaged woman came in, and deposited a filled bun (bocadillo) wrapped in cling film, on the waste paper box, and went out again. It took me a moment to put two and two together: obviously it was left for someone who was going to sleep in there.
I feel so glad and grateful to live in a city where people are like this.

The gold of existence

Join us at Rising Women, Rising World

This one phrase alone would have been enough to take away from the talks I heard last night from Rising Women, Rising World.  It was said by Dr. Rama Mani, who talked about “the heArt of transformation”, another wonderful phrase which describes creativity as the driving force for change, both inner and outer.  I don´t know how to describe briefly all I heard: the most moving was to hear Gululai Ismail talking on a mobile with poor coverage from North West Pakistan saying “speaking up is important”, especially for those who enjoy free speech to use it on behalf of those who don´t.

It brought home forcefully how we can enjoy playing here with our words (I´m not knocking play, believe me – what was that about the heArt of transformation?) while women who speak up for education for girls face death threats.

There was Jean Houston on designing a world that works from the perspective of women – and Monica Sharma on leadership development for sustainable change.  The only person I´d heard of before was Jean Houston, and it felt like a huge privilege to be able to hear from women who really are movers and shakers – not in the areas of celebrities and fashion, but in refugee camps, health systems, peace processes, girls´rights…

Jean said, quoting Margaret Mead ” Women´s resolve and resourcefulness increase when times get harder – all over the world, women must embrace their power.”

Go listen: more tonight, and replays for 48 hours.

I´m so excited!

Yes, I know this is a word Americans use when they want to sell you something – but I am! Today and tomorrow “Rising Women, Rising World” are hosting a series of talks broadcast live – you get the general idea of what it´s about from the name of the organisation: been trying to think of a word to use which sounds less dreary than “organisation”, because what is being proposed is the growing of networks of women imbued with woman-ish values. check out what´s on offer:
I´m on this page thanks to Jean Houston, who for me has melded magnificently two of the main strands in my life, spiritual searching and social commitment. If to no-one else, listen to her!

Join us at Rising Women, Rising World

Happy as Castanets

Direct translation from the Spanish.  That´s how I feel, since a week ago, when the results of a scan showed me to be almost free of cancer: breast cancer, which left me a one-tit wonder eleven or twelve years ago, came back in my lungs and bones – and now it´s nearly gone!  Whether it´s because I´ve been so successful at enjoying every day, or because of the food full of life energy I´ve been eating, or the pill (Loxifan) that I´ve been taking daily (my kind doctor attributes miraculous powers to this) – I imagine it´s a combination of all three – spirit, food, and scientific research.
I´m going to carry on living each day as if it were my last, whilst taking great care crossing the road to make sure it isn´t!
I hope this encourages people who may be in the same boat: I got an enormous amount of help at the start of the process from reading Anita Moorjani´s “Dying to be Me”, which took away the fear of dying.