The Wild Heart of Western Asturias- Eulogy for My Godfather


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Some people are meant to stand out. They aren’t supposed to meekly follow the herd, but to lead the way along the rough and tumble road to the future. Their place is at the front of the line, where they are first to take a step, first to take a fall, first to get up again.
My godfather and uncle Manolo was not just my mother’s older brother, the one that preceded her in the line of seven children that my grandmother Pepa raised almost on her own. He was the most boisterous of an energetic, hardworking bunch. Manolo was just eight years old when his father died. Pepa was always wondering what he would be up to next. There was no reining in his restless spirit. When the endless chores of the farm gave him a break, he was to be found cycling off to meet a girl in the next village or riding wild horses bareback. Or roasting a chicken over an open fire to celebrate with his friends before going off to the north of Africa to do his military service. If there was a cave to explore, there he went, dragging along a handful of mates, attracted by his charisma and then inevitably paying the consequences of daring to be bold.
He was the essence of the wild heart of western Asturias.
I always remember my godfather Manolo lifting heavy washing machines and air conditioners, which he repaired ‘by ear’. He said that if you listened to it, the machine would tell you what the problem was. He was incredibly funny and had a special knack with children, which he made roar with laughter by imitating a wild boar.
He was the Best Man at my parents’ wedding and my godfather, privilege I shared with my cousin Amador. I think he got the two most like him of his two dozen nephews and nieces. He certainly was admired by both his godchildren.
He was what is commonly known as a free spirit. He walked in leaps and bounds, striding confidently forward, heeding only the beat of his own drum. Fearless, strong, charismatic and proud, he taught everyone around him that life is for the brave and that if you follow every rule, you will not get any closer to your dreams.
As we mourn his death, we will also remember his example. He was genuinely himself in every circumstance.
His was a life well lived, with few regrets. I will do my best to honor him by following his footsteps. If I ever lose my way, I’ll think of him and say , ‘Hell, I’m doing it anyway!’
He will always remain in our hearts as a shining example of freedom and the courage to be yourself, come what may.

‘Double Standards Cannot be Changed By Trying’


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Disclaimer: I do not hate men nor make them responsible for all the evils of the world. I have two wonderful sons and a marvelous man in my life. This is about society in Spain.

We are no less feminine because we own our destinies.
What man likes a woman who can’t get along without him?
We all want love but nobody wants to be anyone’s servant. Female ‘weakness’ is a myth. There have been women who have taken advantage of this, although I don’t approve of it. As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. If you want a dependant woman, you pay the price.
My maternal grandmother became a widow in 1933. She had seven children, ranging in age from twelve to three months. She was thirty five. She needed strength and courage to raise them, being illiterate. She grew a pair. She had to if she wanted to get by. Nobody took in a widow with seven kids, not then in pre-war, Civil War and post war Spain; and not now.
But a poor widower, or more recently, a divorced man, is a poor soul who needs to be sorted out with a woman by his side because the poor guy might feel lonely or bad.
Enter the double standard: A woman in the same circumstances is morally dubious, silly, crazy…
Because a woman has to be weak when she should follow and strong when nobody wants to lead.
Because a woman has to be smart so she can fend for herself but not too intelligent to challenge anyone’s intelligence.
Because a woman must be pretty so that men look at her, so she can then reject them (because if she doesn’t she’s a slut) after which they can call her frigid, stuck up and say she was asking for it. Whatever it takes to deny the fact that she is indeed her own person and needn’t cater to anyone else’s desires.
Because a woman must be pure until she has a formal relationship and then she must be able to execute the Kamasutra.
Because a woman has to bear children and then forget about everything else.
Motherhood is everything, all there is. Once you’re a mother, you are nothing more. Don’t look for a relationship! If there’s a chance of one, run! A mother cannot have a personal life. People are surprised at low birthrates. You can’t even have a personal life when your kids are grown. Just for the record, how many men are only considered as fathers? Once a father, only a father? I think not.
I lost a friend today for posting this. A woman. She said it was demeaning to widows. I myself am divorced. It seems that by some absurd stupidity of mine, I managed to insult myself and insult women. She ended up saying that it was presumptuous of me to think I could change any thing by saying it. It had always been that way and would always be that way.
The fire of fear sends smoke into people’s eyes to blind them from truths too hard to accept.
I am done trying to explain it.
End of rant.

Smoke

You Say You’re Pro-Life – But Are You Really?


When you say you are pro-life, please explain and define exactly what you mean. I cannot add anything else. This article leaves you reeling. The transformations of the fortunate children who were adopted serve to mitigate an ounce of the pain. If this doesn’t make you think hard, nothing will.

Transformation

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I don’t do politics. Politics is ugly. Especially this election, yeesh. It seems, that one of the major divisive talking points is the pro-choice vs pro-life argument. The more and more rhetoric I hear, I want to ask you (challenge you even) Pro-Lifer, are you truly truly pro-life or are you simply anti-abortion?

What happens when this child you fought to be born needs routine well checks and immunizations and their parents need help affording it? What happens when the child turns out to have more complex medical needs like Down Syndrome, congenital heart defect, or osteogenesis imperfecta? Are you supporting programs like Medicaid? Are you supporting or contributing to local doctors who provide free or reduced services for low income families? You should be. Access to healthcare greatly increases one’s quality of life. And you said you were pro life.

What happens when this child you fought to be born grows into a toddler…

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Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters and The Fight to Be The Green Dog


The silhouette of a warrior woman with storm clouds in the background.

The silhouette of a warrior woman with storm clouds in the background.

Green dogs don’t make good mothers.
I am a bad mother. I admit it freely. I should be ashamed of myself, but I’m afraid I’m not. Shame is a life sucking emotion and I have little time for life suckers, whatever type they are.
I am a bad mother because I expect my sons to live without me. I demand that they live as they see fit and I will cheer them on. Or give them a good kick in the pants, if need be. I am after all the woman who carried them for nine months, birthed them and then went on to perform the quadruple somersault, backwards, no hands and blindfolded, of raising them. I won the right to speak my mind to them, whether they like it or not, the moment they started wailing at me after ten or fourteen hours of labour.
That, however, doesn’t mean that they owe me anything except talking to me like a human, just like I talk to them. I am tempted not to when they behave like snotty know-it-alls, but I manage to control myself.
I am a bad mother because I embarked on this lifelong project knowing full well that it was not for myself for whom I was raising my boys. I was raising them for the world, so that they could improve it. Just waiting to see the outcome of all my efforts, my sleepless nights, the blood sweat and tears, is enough motivation to keep going. The future awaits! Will they be the next Nobel winner for physics? Or will they be the best bagpiper to grace this paradise that is Asturias? Or perhaps the next great Spanish chef? I look at them from out of the corner of my eye when they’re distracted and try to disguise my joy and pride and wonder at being at least partially responsible for their uniqueness.
I am a bad mother because in spite of everything, I only expect the best from them: to be good men and happy, in whatever way they choose. There are enough people being steered in the wrong direction by those who say they love them. That won’t be me. I’ve been steered, shushed and told how inadequate my views and ideas, and indeed my self was. I decided that the cycle ends with me. I don’t want them to waste as much time as I have trying to find their voice and leave behind the doubts.
I am a bad mother because I never warned them how bad the world was and how awful people were. Instead, I showed them that if they have confidence in people, most people will prove to be trustworthy. Prudence, by all means. Fear, as little as needs be.
Green dogs, as I said, don’t make good mothers because we are far too busy watching the stars twinkle in our babies’ eyes and wanting them to laugh that way just once more, like when we invent lullabies out of three different songs and instead of looking at us with disapproval, we get the most radiant smile. Ah, yes…Green Dogs are loyal to those who think our wyrdness is kinda nice.
That’s not all … no, there’s still more.
I am a bad daughter. I am a bad daughter because I never lived up to expectations. In fact, I always tried my damnedest to ignore them. I demanded time alone to think, which I seldom got. Sometimes I wonder if I was denied that time purposely to keep me from figuring out my truth. I have always been determined to be me, whoever that is. When I figure it out, you’ll be first to know.
I am a bad daughter because I always understood that my parents weren’t infallible, therefore I always took my life into my hands. If I make a mistake, it’s me that makes it. It’s better to learn from your mistakes than to live an easy life on someone else’s terms. Better doesn’t mean easier, just so you know. Sometimes I’ve wished for a dash more conventionality but, alas, ’tis not to be.
I am a bad daughter because I don’t see my parents as heroes. They are just human. They made mistakes and handled life as best they knew…like the rest of us.
I am a bad daughter because I don’t feel the ‘joy’ in caring for my mother with dementia -although she IS quite funny sometimes. I feel the uneasiness and guilt and sadness of watching her slip away a little more each day, becoming less and less the energetic woman that I knew as my mother, and more a spoilt three year old who can really push my buttons and then hurl me into a fit of guilty tears.
What I am is a good fighter, in spite of myself. I am not a quitter but a doer. I am a giver more than a taker. I am wacky and not very good at spatially orienting myself. I am a good organiser and motivator. I am a chef who can’t follow a recipe. I’d rather improvise. My improvisations fall into two main categories: the Absolute Biggest Mess Ever Seen, or This Should Be On Every Menu In Every Restaurant, Gosh It’s Good!
I am not what you would expect when you meet me. I don’t know if it’s good or not.
I guess that is the core of being a Green Dog. You can only say I’m human, because I mess up times enough, but it’s not quite an easy task to put me in a box to make it easier for you to understand.
I recommend you just give up, have some tea or chocolate and call it a day.

PS: This is my post nº 100! Happy to be going forward. Thanks to all my readers.

Cudillero, Asturias-TheOtherSpain


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Cudillero is a traditional fishing port on the Asturian coast. Its colourful houses, perched on the cliff overlook the Cantabrian Sea in its endless ebb and flow. There’s nothing better than stopping to enjoy a cider in one of its many quaint restaurants and at night it is a romantic setting for a dinner and a walk while the sea whispers its eternal wisdom…always the sea.