Ancient and Modern: Lovely León, Spain by da-AL


Photo of da-AL at León book fair.
Rain can’t dampen the beauty of León’s historic district — especially when it’s got a late night book fair!

I love Spain! It’s no accident that one of my soon-to-be self-published novels is called, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat.”

A dream to sightsee on foot, León, Spain, was the next to last stop of a fun-filled vacation that my husband and I began with a weekend in beautiful Barcelona and then a stop in wonderful Huesca. We crossed the French border into pretty saint-jean-pied-de-port, enchanting Espelette, and phenomenal French Basque Country cities Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne, and Biarritz. Upon our return to Spain, we enjoyed delicious food and seaside dogs in San Sebastián, and then the breathtaking city of Bilbao.

León, founded in 29 B.C., has so much fascinating architecture that the two days we visited weren’t enough to see everything. León’s gothic Santa María de León Cathedral was constructed mostly during 1205 to 1301, its north tower and cloister during the 14-century, and its south tower in 1472. Ever see Mother Mary pregnant? (Tap on photos to see them bigger and their captions.)

It’s an important cathedral on The Way of Saint James (El Camino de Santiago) religious pilgrimage route.

Architect Antoni Gaudí welcomes company. He’s best known for Barcelona’s Sagrada Família Cathedral. In León, he designed Casa Botines from 1891 to 1892. In 1929, it became a bank but has since reverted to its original appearance. Downstairs featured a display of Francisco Goya’s political cartoons.

Photo of da-AL with employee and Susana, owner of 'a comer' restaurant.
Susana and her employee cook with love — ‘a comer’ restaurant is a must-eat-at!

Spain’s homestyle food (unlike typical restaurant fare most anywhere) is loaded with delicious veggies. I swooned when we happened into a tiny eatery that cooked like I was visiting someone’s gourmet granny — we ate there twice! Every single morning, ‘a comer’ take out restaurant owner Susana shops for the best of what’s in season, then cooks a new menu from scratch — thank you from the bottom of my stomach, querida Susana!

Photo of hosts Marco Tsitselis and Mariu Alvarez Garcia.
We’re so glad Marco and Mariu rented us a lovely room!

Our hosts, Marco and Mariu, made our stay at their home extra cozy and our visit to León extra memorable — many thanks to both of them!

It was time to hit the highway to Madrid!…

Guest Blog Post: 18 Years of Blogging by Dan


How long have you been writing or reading blogs? I’ve read them for years and blogged myself about two and a half years.

Dan’s blogged for 18 years! Regardless of his ever self-effacing self-description that he should be better at it by now, I’m much impressed! In his words, here’s what he’s learned about blogging, including some of his art…

outline drawing of Dan's feet
EWB* (Experience With Blogging)

I blogged as a way to practice my writing hobby. Attraction of Viewers, Likes, and Comments would only add incentive for sorting out and organizing my thoughts. Wrong! My blog grew to an enormous size. I became insatiable, like a chef on a quest to include more ingredients in the pot. I tripped up on this “big feet” mentality.

Meanwhile, other matters became most pressing. I was a Caregiver. After things settled down, I reached good stopping points (CMfM – skeleton; ITN – structure) and buttoned up (put it in an archival mode) my blog after publishing 2057 posts. (It downloads too slowly, and casual users can’t reasonably peruse its content.)

If your goal is to attract spiders (advanced views to blog posts), here are two tips for increased “access to location”:
Improve the odds that an Internet Seeker with a focused search will find you [do this by adding General or Specific Category labels and Tags.] and
Improve your referrals [get out there and find compatible sites and link to each other].

Just remember this: It is easier to get excited by one well-directed “find” than to sustain the fickle interest levels of the entire internet!

A Fun Way to Celebrate Our Dead by da-AL


Happy Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos!

161030diademuertosw6 161030diademuertosw5 161030diademuertosw4I’ve long admired how Mexicans and Chicanos make the afterlife look amazing; creative, fun, and profound — all at the same time! A dear friend recently visited Peru and returned with this “Calavera Catrina/Lady of the Dead” for me.

161030diademuertosc2My gaze riveted to Catrina’s fun feet, I asked, “What? This is from Peru?!” My friend’s answer took a while to sink in. Dia de los Muertos, it turns out, is celebrated all over the world. Not just in Mexico and Los Angeles!

Here’s a quick definition about how it’s celebrated in Mexico, lifted from a longer Wikipedia explanation.

On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.

— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature

Here’s how its celebrated around Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhood, Olvera Street…

My dog’s feet are popular! by da-AL


56 Facebook friends liked the picture I put up a couple of days ago of my dog’s toes! For all you admirers, here’s a closer look.

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Plus another…

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What do your dog’s feet look (not to be confused with smell)?

Guest Blog Post: “Dreampacks: dogs in Germany and the Netherlands,” in Patty Wolter’s exact words


Fellow blogger Patty tells how dogs live in Germany …

Dutch expression:“Zo eerlijk als een hond zijn.”

English translation:“Being as honest as a dog,” meaning that a dog does not lie. Either he likes you or he just doesn’t.

Hello dear neighbors, readers of the beautiful blog of Daal.

Daal asked me to write a post about our customs regarding pets. Since that is a broad subject, I narrowed it down to dogs. Let me first tell you a little bit about me 😉

Dreampacks, dogs, and farming
Patty and her Dreampack. Click for her Dutch website.

I’m a Dutch soul living in Germany due to my husband’s work. I live with my Dreampack, my hubby and two dogs, in our Dreampack, a farmhouse with a garden and a closed yard.

A Dreampack, is for me a way of life.

One in which, in a respectful manner, the natural needs of a living being is fulfilled in the 21th century.

A Dreampack, are for me also the souls who, together with me, form ‘my’ Dreampack.

A Dreampack is for me also the place where I realize ‘my’ Dreampack.

I strongly believe we are all connected through energy, and I like to call my fellow little creatures (human beings) my neighbors. That doesn’t mean I like all my neighbors, but I think we should try, at least, to live alongside each other if differences are to huge to overcome.

Enough about me 😉

Two of my best friends alive on earth are our two dogs. Daal was curious about how we treat dogs in the Netherlands, since in her surroundings, a lot of people treat their dogs as if they were their kids. Well, in the Netherlands there are a lot of people who are doing the same 😉 In Germany ditto by the way.

As a human, I like to think of my dogs as my friends. However, I would never treat them as little people on four legs. As a human, and as an animal therapist, my heart bleeds when I see dogs wearing jackets, dogs eating ice cream and dogs ruling their he households.

A dog is a dog and is best served with a dedicated family (one person together with his or her dog is also a family), healthy food, clean water, and the right care (structure, regularly and enough walks/exercise, and housing).

Two of Patty's best friends alive on earth. Click here to read Patty's English language blog, Kruidje-roer-me-niet: Brain threads of a little creature on this globe.
Two of Patty’s best friends alive on earth. Click here to read Patty’s English language blog, Kruidje-roer-me-niet: Brain threads of a little creature on this globe.

Unfortunately here, like in the U.S., puppy mills and a lot of illegal import and export of dogs takes place. If I understand correctly, the U.S. has stricter legislation regarding dog abuse, and it has strong pro-dog organizations such as the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Here, in that are, our country is behind. While we do have organizations that try to rescue dogs from threatening situations, it’s only for a few years people can get fined for neglecting or abusing animals.

There will be always be differences in opinions regarding how to live with a dog in a Dreampack. There are people who only see as dog as an animal. There are those who only see a dog as a small human on four legs. There are people who fall between those two ways of viewing pets. Even those in that last category, people maintain their dog(s) differently.

Living between farmers, most of my neighbors employ the harsher method. A dog is, accordingly to their way of living, merely an animal who needs to protect their belongings. They are physically well tended to, yet aren’t allowed to live indoors.

Due to our being Dutch, my husband and I differ from our neighbors in some ways anyway. One (for me, big) difference: we let our dogs walk freely in our house and keep them only at night in a kennel, or if we are both away, for their own safety.

I have to bite my tongue (is that a similar expression in your language?) a lot 😉 Respecting their customs and don’t share, how I really feel about their way of tending their dogs.

Note from Daal: Ok, readers, its your turn. What are your views about dogs as pets? Got any favorite dog expressions?