Birdwatchers: Found Writing from 2009

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My ninety-year-old Aunt Joan keeps things: newspaper articles on Spanish cuisine, records of family accomplishments, and letters–lots of letters.  She sorts through her boxes of papers and sends those of interest on to the appropriate family member.

Most often I receive letters written either by myself, or a relative.  Yesterday, though, I opened an envelope from Joanie and found the following: an article I wrote about  teaching that was published in the Monroe-Woodbury Teachers’ Association newsletter, Crossroads.

Birdwatchers

 

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Welcoming a Puppy

Saachi comes to Ladythorn Place

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Saachi, a Jack Russell terrier, joined our family on August 6th.  She was born on June 14, so today she is exactly two months old.

She is vastly entertaining, but like any baby, she requires a lot of care and attention.

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She loves to be outside, digging and rolling and chewing.  Surprisingly, she’s missed noticing the frogs in the yard, even when I point them out to her.

Saachi will be wildly active, chewing on furniture legs, our legs, shoes, and toys for about half an hour.  Then she sacks out for a good two hour nap.

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We’ll have Saachi updates as she grows.

Welcome, Saachi!

What I’m Reading

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Story Thieves

by James Riley

published by Aladdin, 2015.

 

“You just told a character in a book that he was in a book! Do you have any idea what that means?”

“No?” Owen said.

“Me neither!” Bethany shouted. “And that’s what scares me!”

-from the back cover of Story Thieves

 

            Story Thieves is a fabulous book, and James Riley is a clever writer. The plot moves breathtakingly fast, with one dangerous, impossible situation following another.

Bethany, Owen’s classmate, is half-fiction. Her father was a fictional character and that gives Bethany the ability to jump into books. Even though her mother forbids it, Bethany continues to escape into stories to search for her father. She’s very careful not to interfere with the characters or plots, until Owen discovers her secret. He wants to go into his favorite series and perform some heroics. That’s when all the trouble begins.

Story Thieves is a fabulous, mind-stretching read. What book would you go into, if you could?

 

Back in New York: Opus 40

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Opus 40, near Saugerties, New York, is the life work of Harvey Fite.   He bought the bluestone quarry in 1938, and spent the next 37 years constructing his Opus 40.

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In the visitors’ center, we watched a short film about Fite and his work.

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Beside the sheer size of this sculpture/stonework, I was most impressed by an aerial photograph of Opus 40.  There we could see the influence of the work Fite did in Honduras, restoring Mayan ruins.

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Looking closely at the walls, I was amazed that Fite quarried and placed every single stone.  As we were leaving, we met a woman sitting on a golf cart.  It turned out that she was the wife of Fite’s stepson.  Pat lives with her husband in the house Fite built, and works to keep the monument a busy venue for visitors and concerts.

I wished that my father could have seen Fite’s Opus and his other sculptures.  My father was a sculptor whose work showed similar influences of his era: Arp, Noguchi, and Moore.  He would have enjoyed Opus 40.

 

Learn more about Opus 40 at   https://www.opus40.org/

Coming to You from Spain: Almost the End

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In the main plaza yesterday there was an abundant display of the local produce. I didn’t quite know what was going on, but I think several farms belonged to the organization that was showing off their crops.

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At our place in Villa Horacia, we have things growing, too: bananas

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and olives

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We are here only four more days.  I have found many things to love in Spain.  My eyes and heart are enriched.  I am grateful.

 

Coming to You from Spain: The Red Duchess

 We took a tour of the Palacio of the Duchess of Medina Sidonia.  No photography was allowed inside the palace, so I have only pictures of the outside. The article below tells a fascinating story about the heiress and her efforts to protect the family archive.
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Children of ‘Red Duchess’ who married lesbian lover on deathbed in battle over legacy

Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, the 21st Duchess of Medina Sidonia, wed her secretary of 20 years and left her in charge of family inheritance foundation

Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, the 21st Duchess of Medina Sidonia

Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, the 21st Duchess of Medina Sidonia Photo: Getty

When an eccentric Spanish duchess married her long-time lesbian lover on her deathbed in 2008, the aristocrat’s three children saw it as the culmination of a betrayal of their right to inherit the family fortune.

Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, the 21st Duchess of Medina Sidonia who was known as the “Red Duchess” for her opposition to the Franco regime, not only wed her secretary of 20 years, Liliana Dahlmann, but left her in charge of the foundation she had set up to ensure that the family’s historical private archive be maintained intact.

As her lover’s widow and president of the Casa Medina Sidonia Foundation, Ms Dahlmann is now fending off a court challenge against the will by the duchess’s three children.

Liliana Dahlmann attends the Duchess of Medina Sidonia’s funeral

The children, led by the eldest, Leoncio González de Gregorio, 50, say that their mother did not have the right to sign away their legitimate inheritance of the family palace and archive as Spanish law guarantees a portion of at least a third of a deceased parent’s property for their children.

Mr González de Gregorio, now the Duke of Medina Sidonia, is asking for a third of the legacy for himself, with another third to be divided between the siblings. The duchess set up the foundation in 1990 after a financial dispute with her children, and, according to Ms Dahlmann, believed that having signed away her possessions during her lifetime, these could not be claimed by her children once she had died.

Leoncio González de Gregorio arrives at the trial earlier this month

“Isabel wanted to protect the heritage so that her children would not sell it,” Ms Dahlmann told the judge in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cádiz province.

The duchess’s family can be traced back to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, the seventh Duke of Medina Sidonia, who led the Spanish Armada.

The family was divided after her children won a legal battle to stop her giving away portions of the estate at Sanlúcar, in Andalucia, in the Nineties.

The archive’s six million documents include a manuscript of the 13th-century Chronicles of Lucas de Túy and a record of the liberal parliament established in Cádiz in the early 19th century at the time of the Peninsular War.

A valuation ordered by the duchess placed a price tag of £44 million on the legacy, although experts from the foundation say it is impossible to value.