Monday, November 29, 2010

I would stare at the grains of light suspended in that silence space, struggling to see into my own heart.What did I want? And what did others want from me? But I could never find the answers. Sometimes I would reach out and try to grasp the grains of light, but my fingers touched nothing.

Haruki Murakami, in the novel "Norwegian Wood"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gloria Wants to Work at Camp Active!!!

Here is another great application letter for the imaginary camp job at Camp-Active.

It is written by Gloria NI2 who hails from Andalusia.

Dear Sir or Madam,
I would like to apply for the job as Camp-Active counselor, recently advertised on your website.
As you can see in my CV, I have previously worked as a babysitter, entertainment organizer and in a school. All these posts involve work with children so I possess relevant experience.
In the different hotels where I have worked, we played games with children and this required considerable creativity to come up with new games every day. We practiced different sports such as cycling, tennis, sailing, windsurfing and all types of outdoor activities. At the school where I worked, I taught languages.
I am particularly interested in this job, because I love working with children and establish good relations with them. I feel sure that this experience would be valuable in the post as counselor.
Enclosed please find my CV. Thank you for taking the time to consider this application. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Yours faithfully,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tennis Coach Post Sought -- Nancy NI2A

Nancy NI2A is applying for an imaginary job. Her qualifications are also fictitious, but well written! She actually works in computers. This is a great model letter for anybody seeking employment.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in reference to the advertisement on your website.

I finished my degree three years ago. At the moment, I am in charge of the Happy Valley Tennis Club, teaching children how to play tennis. As a physical education teacher, my responsibilities range from organizing timetables and managing instructors to giving classes.

I have worked as a primary school teacher for two years. I believe that my experience with children and education make me a very competitive candidate for this position.

As you can see from my CV, I have worked as an instructor at various summer camps for children when I was studying. I am physically fit. I like to run every day and I hike once a month.

I would be pleased to discuss this letter and my enclosed CV at an interview. Thank you for taking the time to consider this application.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully


Mercedes and her Sister!

(We have been discussing the merits of growing up as an only children. Mercedes NI2 wrote a nice essay on this subject. Please note the clearly organized structure with an introduction, central body and conclusion.)

Nowadays people start their own family later than our parents, and they often have to work long hours each day. So, many families have one child.

Parents with an only child can buy everything that a child needs, such as: clothes, shoes, computers and toys. They also can bring up a child better than many children. Only children are more independent because they don’t have siblings to help them. However, children without brothers and sisters may feel loneliness. They are often selfish because they don’t lend their toys to other children.

In my opinion, my sister is the most important person in my life, because she always helps me when I need it. She is very loyal and kind. I love shopping with my sister and my cousins, especially in the boutiques in Triana.

“Csarnok Market” Laura (NI2) takes us to Budapest

Csarnok is the name of the biggest market in Budapest. It is a beautiful 19th century cast iron building. The famous architect Gustave Eiffel, (well known for the Eiffel Tower in Paris), went to Budapest to design the East Station. The market was built at the same time, in the same style as the train station.

Csarnok Market is well-stiuated, just by the Danube river in Pest side, (the name Budapest comes from the join of Buda and Pest, the two big parts of the city separated by the Danube). It is easy to reach Csarnok, there are many buses and trams that stop near there.

The first thing you find when you arrive, is a sight of the wonderful building, the bridge, the river, and the Buda foot hills. As you enter the market, the great space overwhelms you. Though somewhat gray and not very bright, it teems with stalls that break the darkness with colorful vegetables and fruits, apples, peaches, strawberries… and bananas that come from South America or even the Canary Islands!

I think there are three big groups of stalls, the first one sells fruit and vegetables, where the colors abound ...but take care! These stalls sell different types of Hungarian peppers (or paprika), the little dark red ones, strong green ones which are bigger than the reds, and finally a lovely innocent light green pepper. Guess! Which one is the most spicy?.... The innocent light green may kill you! You don’t need to eat it, just hold the pepper in your hand to cut it, and touch your eyes or mouth with the same hand, and you will start to suffer its effects…just try it if you are brave!

The second group of stalls sells meat, milk, eggs and cheese. In this part of the market the smell is not so good, but you can buy fantastic meat, and also a vast array of Hungarian cheeses, very tasty and not dangerous.

Finally you find spirits, sweets and bread, these are my favorites. I love biscuits and cakes, and I could find there a wide range of them, very cheap. You can also buy strong popular Hungarian alcoholic drinks such as Palinka or Unicum. The bottles seem so rude, you can imagine they are very strong before you buy them. It doesn’t happen the same with the peppers!

As for the sound of the market? Csarnok is not a noisy place, which intrigued me, people don’t talk much to each other, when you go to a stall and there are people waiting, you find a perfect queue! Thus they avoid to ask the other persons whose the last one or whatever, with this system somehow they avoid communication!

This happens very often in Budapest, often gray and nostalgic, but always beautiful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spooky Story by Mercedes NI2

There are many versions of this old tale, but Mercedes made this one her own! Although Halloween is already gone, I wanted to include the story in our blog. Thanks to Mercedes for sharing her imagination with us!

Last Sunday I went to a Halloween party with my friends in an old house in Santa Brígida. We prepared a barbecue in the garden and my friend Peter told me a really scary story about himself. It went something like this...
One day, I worked in my grandfather’s house until midnight. The weather was awful, so I was driving slowly. Suddenly I saw a young girl standing on the road and I stopped. The young girl moved in my direction and got into the car. I took her to the town because she told me that her car had got broken down. Her name was Molly and she lived in a farm near the road. When we arrived in the town, I lent her my jacket because she was cold. I left her at the door of her own home and, after that, I left.
I returned to Molly’s farm to pick up my jacket two days ago. The farm was very old and untidy. I saw an old woman and I asked for Molly. The old woman was surprised and she told me that Molly died many years ago, and that her tomb was near there. I went to the cemetery and I discovered her tomb. I was quite surprised to see my jacket on her tomb!

Since then, Peter doesn’t drive that road at night.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Idaira: Our World Explorer

Idaira (NI 2) enjoys undertaking great adventures. Last summer she went with her boyfriend and a group of intrepid Spaniards on a trekking holiday to Papua, New Guinea in Indonesia. There they learned about a very different culture and savored the great outdoors with great forays into the hills and jungles. We would like to thank Idaira for sharing her slides with us of the trip in a fascinating presentation she made at EOI Santa Brigida recently. In the photo, Idaira crosses a very unusual footbridge in the wilds of Papua New Guinea.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I just read an amazing novel by a Japanese writer.
I found this quote in the text and would like to
share it with you. -- Delmar Lemming

"…I think … people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn't matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They're all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed 'em to the fire, they're all just paper. The fire isn't thinking 'Oh, this is Kant,' or 'Oh, this is the Yomiuri evening edition… ,' while it burns. To the fire, they're nothing but scraps of paper. It's the exact same thing. Important memories, not-so-important memories, totally useless memories: there's no distinction--they're all just fuel." — Haruki Murakami (After Dark)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keep on the Sunny Side of Life

I learned this lovely Carter Family classic from Lorre Wyatt in the 1980s. He recorded it on his Folk Legacy LP "Roots and Branches" I seem to recall. Lorre tells a great tale about the author Ida Blenkhorn, which involves a nurse pushing her patients around in a wheelchair. One young woman's only request was that they stick to the sunny side of the path. It apparently led to a great song!

There's a dark & a troubled side of life
There's a bright, there's a sunny side, too
Though we meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view

[cho:] Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us everyday, it will brighten all the way
If we'll keep on the sunny side of life

Though a storm in its fury breaks today,
Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear;
Clouds and storms will, in time, pass away
The sun again will shine bright and clear.

Let us greet with the song of hope each day
Tho' the moment be cloudy or fair
As we walk let us clear a sunlit way
And hope other souls will travel there.

(Ida Blenkhorn, lyrics modified by Lorre Wyatt circa 1987)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You are my Sunshine (from Idaira of NI 2)

Many thanks to Idaira from San Mateo (NI 2) for the link to You are my Sunshine!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My kitchen (by Susana from Santa Brigida NI 2)

The kitchen is very special to me. I have lived here for over ten years and it has become a part of me. It’s full of personal possessions: my crockery I have collected over five years, the wooden furniture that I have personally chosen. Here you will find all the kitchen tools needed to prepare delicious and aromatic recipes. Even a part of the wall has been decorated with my own hands with cheerful flowered wallpaper.
It’s about to 6 meters long and 4 meters wide. It’s big enough to have a glass round table at the bottom with 4 leather chairs which is the local point of the room, just at the front of the conservatory. This conservatory is a large floor-ceiling glass window which looks out onto the garden. The other two walls to the sides are plenty of furniture and appliances such as a microwave, the oven and the fridge, everything of steel colour. But you won’t ever find anything on the table or worktop except some flowers or fruit if we aren’t eating or cooking. This is because I can't stand clutter.
There isn’t any door, which means you come straight into through the living room and the dining room. In fact, there is no door anywhere on this floor except at the bath.
Whenever we have a party or a Christmas dinner, people gravitate with their drinks to the kitchen. It always ends up the fullest and noisiest room in the house but I harbour very pleasant memories of it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Notes on You are my Sunshine

This old family favorite of mine has a lot of history to it. Apparently one of the co-authors actually ran for governor in Louisiana (or was it Mississippi?) and won.

Whatever the case, he helped produce one of the most tuneful folk classics in US singable history. Indeed, this has proved a crowdpleaser for me in three continents.

Please note that I have never, as far as I know, ever sung the song in G (one sharp) as written below. But the melody is more or less right. Enjoy this ditty and keep singing!

Delmar Lemming

Popular Request for Guaci and all!

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray

You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away!

1) The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried.

2) I'll always love you and make you happy,
If you will only say the same.
But if you leave me how it will grieve me,
You'll regret it all some day.

3) You told me once, dear, you really loved me
And no one else could come between.
But now you've left me to love another;
You have shattered all of my dreams.


One of our favorite holiday celebrations, Halloween, is coming soon. We hope to have another session of spooky stories and songs and activities for our classes at the EOI Santa Brigida.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When You Sing (John Gorka)

There are lots of reasons for singing. We may use songs in class to practice our pronunciation, for example. But mostly, we do it for a tremendous sense of joy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

They are pretty, from a distance!

Just a Sting at the Seaside! Urchins and Jellyfish

Ouch! I was about to dive into the ocean at my favorite beach in the world (or, at least on this island!), the Canteras. Well past 10 pm, the stretch of sand I had chosen was shrouded in darkness but I discerned in the water some pretty blue blobs that looked like tiny plastic shopping bags. This inflated figures were obviously jellyfish (the Canary people called them aguaviva although the RAE term is medusa).

Having no interest in testing their stingers, I moved along to another part of the shore but before I ventured into the drink, I asked a couple who were strolling along the sand if they reckoned I would run into more or these jellyfish. They just laughed and said "don't fret, it's just a little sting!" Indeed, I recall a friend being stung on the heel a few years ago. After a couple of days, his whole swelled up like a balloon! I think that unhappy situation lasted a while, too.

Although this is certainly not Australia where certain sorts of sealife can leave you dead or comatose before you have stepped onto the beach! But we do have more than our share of jellyfish and sea urchins this year. The September tides (the so-called Marea del Pino) brings lots of scary creatures up to our sacred shore.
Swimming amid all this sea life can be quite an adventure!

Hey, that's not cricket, it's a sticky wicket!

Cricket vs Baseball: Cross Sporting Borders

Bowl 'em a googly! Mixed up sporting metaphors!

Bowl 'em a googly! Mixed up sporting metaphors!

“...her loving subjects going away regretting they had not performed well and feeling, too, that the monarch had somehow bowled them a googly.”

Quote taken from Alan Bennett's novel The Uncommon Reader (Profile Books, 2007 p. 41).

I found this in a novel the other day and assumed it was cricket related but it sounded awfully like the US saying “throw somebody a curve.” This could be rendered into more formal English with the verb trick or deceive but I would go with the more flamboyant bamboozle, which I happen to love! In fact, I would bet the meaning is exactly the same. I do like this new twist on an old saw. It is not surprising as cricket and baseball are sporting cousins.

Anyway, my research showed that googly is a common cricket term in Australia and dates from the early 20th century.

For years, a favorite verb has been “balk” meaning to refuse to do something flatly and definitively, although I have always assumed this came from the noun “balk” which indicates an illegal motion by the pitcher. This may involve too long a pause between the windup and the pitch. Or something like that!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Buffalo Gals

One night when I was about three years old and couldn’t manage to get to sleep, my mom sang me a soulful, soothing version of this tune, The Buffalo Gals. It has been a personal and family favorite throughout my adult life and, as Bruce Utah Philips would have it, the singing of it always takes me home. I hope to record this soon with my daughter Rosie. We shall post our version of the tune on this blog as soon as we get around to it! For now, enjoy the song yourself. --- Delmar Lemming

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

As I was walking down the street,
Down the street, down the street,
A pretty little gal I chanced to meet,
Oh, she was fair to see.

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

I stopped her and we had a talk,
Had a talk, had a talk,
Her feet took up the whole sidewalk
And left no room for me.

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stockin',
And her heel kept a-knockin', and her toes kept a-rockin'
I danced with a gal with a hole in her stockin'
And we danced by the light of the moon.

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

You can read more about its background at
Here is a classic version of the song so you can get the tune:
Good luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

If you sing this gem, The Worried Man Blues, you will not only improve your pronuniciation of the English language, you will also have a great time. As my daughter Mariana once chirped, once you finish singing those Worried Man Blues, you will forget all the blues in your soul!
We have enclosed the lyrics below and also a clip of a wonderful band of bluegrass virtuosos singing and playing this tune on Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest TV show.

Worried Man Blues

Worried Man Blues

I went across the river and I lay down to sleep (3x)
When I woke up I had shackles on my feet!

It takes a worried man, to sing a worried song (3x)
I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long!

Twenty-nine links of chain around my leg (3x)
And on each link, an initial of my name!

I asked the judge, what would be my fine (3x)
Twenty-one years on the rocky mountain line.

The train arrived, sixteen coaches long (3x)
The one I love was on that train and gone.

Twenty-one years to pay my awful crime (3x)
Twenty-one years and I still got ninety-nine!

If anyone should ask you where you got this song,
Mention the EOI as we sang it all day long!

Worried Man Blues


One of my favorite films in recent years is Big Fish, the wild Tim Burton story about a family caught up in a collection of tall tales!

A Desert Tale...

A young lad joined a caravan that was travelling across the desert...

Telling a Tale

Can you tell this tale? Has anyone ever told it to you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Sour Grapes! (Delmar Lemming)

We have been harvesting great bunches of pale green grapes this September. After grafting on some new branches last February, the old arbor is producing a new seedless grape that is so good for a mid-morning snack. At the EOI, the new crop has garnered rave reviews. Rosie has offered to make a jelly or jam with these gems but I fear they won't last that long. You can hardly stop yourself once you get started on a bunch. In fact, I wanted to enter a bunch in the Guiness Book of World Records, it was so huge and heavy on the vine. But soon as friends and families and work mates got hold of it, it as gone!

This morning, while digging in the garden, I uncovered some dark, dark Welch's type of grapes which were small and not quite ripe, but scrumptious. Their sweet flesh reminded me of the grapes my Aunt Mary Hanley used to grow in their Second Street garden. She turned most of them into jelly which she stored in the cellar in those portly jars, their lids sealed with wax and pectin.

Sweet memories and no sour grapes!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

José and his María

José is an elderly resident of La Atalaya who enjoys strolling the winding country road that leads from his village to the main road. Like many of the Atalaya neighbors, this retired carpenter has walked the road toward Santa Brigida and then doubled back. Many take this walk and admire the breathtaking views of the great Atlantic Ocean on the eastern horizon. Now, however, José has developed respiratory problems and has to carry an oxygen tank. Today I saw him walking the La Atalaya road with his wife María. His lifelong companion toted his tank. Their gait was gingerly maintained but every step carried dignity. It was a blessed moment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Skunks in the Alley (Delmar Lemming)

Cycling around Franklin County this summer, we were taken by the wide range of animal life in the trees, bushes, riversides and even in our bike path.
The biggest shocks were those stinky skunks who lurked about the Pioneer Valley's wooded corners and clamoring on the bulkhead of my babça's old homestead on Second Street in Turners Falls, city of magic, city of light!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Old Dog: New Tricks (Delmar Lemming & Son)

My son Robin has relocated for a time to Franklin County where he is often in charge of my sister Neal's big black lab Tucker. Our mission this summer was to teach this hefty trooper to swim. Although it took some coaxing to get our pal into the drink, he finally did his first dog paddle in the Connecticut River under the old train tressle in Montague City. It was quite hilarious!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fan Mail from Some Flounder!? Delmar Lemming Summer Project

As the heat settles onto the hills and the green goes brown, I suggest some quiet summer pursuits that may take you back in time. In the days before instant communication. People sometimes sat down with a piece of paper and pen and wrote letters. Now if you can't think of anyone familiar to write to, I suggest fan mail.

I mention this because I just saw the Mike Leigh film All or Nothing which featured a premier performance by all the central characters, but particularly the taxi driver (played by Tim Spall) and his disfunctional family. All four of them are superb in this film. In fact, I was tempted to write to Mike Leigh himself as I do admire him inordinately. But instead, I have chosen Tim Spall as my subject.

After sobbing through the final scene of the film (don't worry, I am not going to give anything away --- you have to see it for yourself!), I resolved to direct a gushy fan mail to this amazing actor. I was reminded of the Bullwinkle cartoon moose line: "Fan mail from some flounder?" But I answered, as Rocky the Squirrel did in his day No, this is what I really call a message!"

So watched this space and tomorrow I will run my fan mail missive by you. Happy summer fun and diversion! Delmar Lemming

Friday, July 16, 2010

Angelique Kidjo Brings Magic to Las Palmas

Angelique Kidjo (, the voice of West Africa, lit Las Palmas on fire last evening with her wonderful mix of soul, blues, pop and melodic African rhythms.
The great expanse behind Perez Galdós theater was packed with devoted fans, dancing and singing along with the magical voice of Benin.
Ms Kidjo and her exquisite band provided an amazing array of songs from her childhood in the 1960s. In addition to the infectious African pop beat, she sang a stunning tribute to James Brown. "When I was a child, I wanted to be James Brown more than anything in the world," she announced in lovely English. "But we all know that is impossible...everyone in Africa knows there is only one James Brown."
No sooner had she finished this tribute, then Curtis Mayfield's ghost appeared miraculously in the form of "Move On Up!" with its very positive wishes. This tune was dedicated to all the people of Africa, as Ms Kidjo called for unity for this great continent.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Red Onions = Cebolla Roja

The red onions have been harvested with only a few tears. We tied them in bundles and hung them in the barn to dry. It creates a great atmosphere in that shadowy space.
The sight of tose onions reminded me of another onion harvest in France many years ago. I had just finished reporting for the Greenfield Recorder and took some time out to milk goats, make cheese and buttermilk and till the soil.
Our onion crop was spectacular that year in southern France, near Montpellier. On one sultry summer afternoon in the blazing sun, my picking partner, Simone, and I found ourselves weary and without water way out in the field.
"My throat is parched," I complained. "And my mouth is as dry as a lime kiln!"
My friend Simone, an ever resourceful Swissman, picked up a big onion from the ground. He peeled that precious treasure and -- I swear to you -- took a big bite of that crunchy onion. He bid me to do the same. It was unbelievable, quenching our thirst with the juice of an onion! -- Delmar Lemming

What? You've Never Heard of Sue Grafton??

In case you have never heard of Sue Grafton, her detective novels begin with A Is for Alibi and run through the alphabet until they reach U Is for Undertow. This amazing author promises to finish her series with Z Is for Zero which will end in 1990 when Kinsey Millhone turns 40. I think that's it anyway.
I mentioned about the paucity of mobile phones and PCs but the novels are always interesting in that they are largely set outside the politics of their day. We do not get any references to the presidents of the day or much of that arena. There is some references to the Vietnam War in O Is for Outlaw but this is in reference to a Vietnam War vet who cannot get it together.
Anyway, I plan to use the Sue Grafton series in class next fall as I have gotten ahold of some of the CD audio readings of Judy Kaye. She brings the novels to life in a very compelling way and it should be fun to play short extracts in class throughout the academic year. Again, enjoy your summer reading! -- Delmar Lemming

Kinsey Millhone, Recommended Summer Reading

(Delmar Lemming, like most of his neighbors in Santa Brigida, is laying low with the heat this summer and recommends reading a good novel. We have been working our way through the Sue Grafton detective series with its offbeat sleuth Kinsey Millhone. In case, you have never heard of her, here is a little biography to get you started. Happy reading!!)

According to Sue Grafton's wonderful thrillers, Kinsey Millhone was born in 1950. Her unusual first name was her mother's surname before her marriage to Kinsey's father. Kinsey lived with her parents until they were killed in a car wreck when she was five and survived in the car for several hours before she was rescued. She then moved in with her aunt (her mother's sister) Gin, who was the only relative still in contact with her mother, the rest of the family having disapproved of the marriage and cut off contact with her. From her Aunt Gin, Kinsey took on eccentricities, including a taste for peanut-butter and pickle sandwiches. In high school, Kinsey was a self-described pot-smoking delinquent. After three semesters at the local community college she realized that academic life was not for her and she joined the Santa Teresa police force. After two years, Kinsey decided life in uniform wasn't for her, and quit the police squad to become an investigator for California Fidelity, an insurance company. Eventually, she became a self-employed private investigator, solving various disappearances and murders, clearing names and dodging hitmen. Kinsey is short and weighs about 118 pounds. She has short, dark, thick hair that she trims with nail scissors. She has little interest in her own physical appearance. Her wardrobe boasts mostly jeans and turtleneck sweaters, though she also owns an extremely wrinkle-resistant "little black dress" for those occasions when dressing up is unavoidable. As a typical Californian, however, she loves physical fitness and jogs three miles every day. She is also a junk food fiend. She is hampered by a ringing in the ears, caused when she shot an attacker from inside a trash can. Kinsey has been divorced twice. Her first husband, Mickey, an ex-cop, appears in O is for Outlaw and her second husband, Daniel, a struggling musician, appears in E is for Evidence.

You could term Kinsey a loner, with no children, she lives in an extremely compact studio apartment converted from a single-car garage. Her landlord is an octogenarian, Henry Pitts, a retired commercial baker who enjoys crossword puzzles; Kinsey harbors a crush on Henry. Henry's family are of durable stock, his siblings all being well into their 90s. Kinsey has had several relationships in the series, beginning with Charlie Scorsoni, continuing through Jonah Robb and Robert Dietz, until the more recent novels in which she has begun an affair with longtime friend Cheney Phillips, a police detective.
Having lived for most of her life with very few family members (for most of the series, her "family" consisted of Henry and his siblings, plus the local tavern owner, Rosie (who married one of Henry's brothers), and generous employees in nearby offices), Kinsey received a shock when her cousin Tasha reached out to her. Meeting Tasha and her sister, Lisa, for lunch revealed they are very similar in appearance. Kinsey and Tasha form a business relationship in M Is for Malice.
As Sue Grafton points out at the beginning of O Is for Outlaw, Kinsey and her world are all based in the 1980s, a pre-mobile phone and computer era. So there is a certain comfort in living with people who are not always connected, characters who live more by their wits, perhaps. --- Delmar Lemming

Blues, Gospel and Soul in Santa Brigida!

We were pleased to catch the Sharrie Williams concert the other night in Santa Brigida. This wonderful singer from Michigan blessed us with her beautiful voice, accomplanied by a first rate band of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.
Ms Williams began her concert just after Spain's World Cup victory. "I know your national team has just won a big football game, so let's celebrate!"
I mention this because I was impressed by how seamlessly this singer drew the crowd into her magic web of mirth and music. She made us feel truly blessed, part of a sacred community.
Sharrie had travelled a long way to that stage, she told us. "Some 13 years ago I was a all strung out on crack and coke," she recounted in unbidded testimony. "But the Lord entered my life and now I revel in that glory."
She mixed soulful blues with a gospel edge that stunned even those who did not understand English. Sharrie Williams showed that language is the least of our obstacles in life, we all danced to the same beat: her sacred rhythmn,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack... (Delmar Lemming)

It was so great visiting Patricia's nursery school class in Valsequillo, up on that mountain ledge looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. Out in the mist, the coast of Africa loomed on the horizon ... or was it Fuerteventura?
Anyway, besides tinkling the twinkle twinkle out of the guitar, I was taken back to the patty cake clapping rhymes games that are so wonderful for children at this early age. We did a Mary Mack contest which was a scream.

Mary Mack (repeat!) Dressed in black (...)
Silver buttons (...) Up and down her back (...etc)
She combed her hair (...) She broke the comb
She's gonna get a pipping
When her mama gets home!

Gracias a Patricia y todo el profesorado de CEIP Los Llanetes por su maravillosa acogida. Volveré pronto!!!! David

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review of "FLIGHT IN FEBRUARY" by Philip Kraske

(This is a book review of a new novel by author Philip Kraske. I have tried to keep to the limits that we generally set in class, particularly regarding word count. It is about 300 words long! -- I hope you like my recommendation. -- Delmar Lemming)

Flight in Febrary is not Philip Kraske's first book but it ranks among his best efforts. Having read some of his manuscripts over the past quarter century (he started young!), I would say Flight in February demonstrates the maturity of a diligent, first-class wordsmith. This struck me when I got five chapters in and heard how "the rusty caster giggled and heckled" at poor Reilly, whose only response to his gray officious surroundings is a sneer and a Playboy magazine! The book abounds with tremendous details, every word chosen with care but provided with seemingly effortless writing. Canadian author John Marlin once said "to be a good novelist you have to love people." Kraske shows genuine affection for his characters. I worked as a police reporter in the Midwest and found the author's depiction of law enforcement officials in these environs rang true. The dialogue drives the story along with precision and, at times, humor and wit. These are truly believable characters.

I won't compare Philip Kraske to Jonathan Franzen or Paul Auster, but I am sure others will, given the breadth and ambition of this work. Sue Grafton's punchy prose came to mind in some passages of Flight.

Just one question haunts me. Why February in Minnesota? I am far from that frozen wasteland now but I recall it as being pretty darn chilly! Although the author assures us in the final credits (his acknowledgements, p 433 in the first edition) this work is not going to inspire more prison breaks, he sure made me wonder at the things humans can get up to, even in the dead of winter.

But the best recommendation I could give Flight in February is that it is a great read. As another reviewer has stated, once you are caught up in this thriller, you won't be able to put it down.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Barnstorming in the Mountains of Valsequillo (Delmar Lemming)

We enjoyed the singing and chanting enthusiasm of both pupils and teachers at CEIP Valsequillo and Los Llanetes recently.

I fancy this mini-tour of the mountains above Telde as a "barnstorming" in remembrance of the theater companies that used to perform in the hill towns of upstate New York in the early to mid 19th century, travelling from barn to barn.

The pretext last week was to celebrate the Canary Islands' celebration which takes place on May 30th each year. Having said that, I would gladly return to sing with these wonderful pupils. I also want to acknowledge the fond welcome afforded by the respective staff and administrations. Thanks for all the music and fun. Now in Spanish...

Gracias a todos los profesores y alumnos del Colegio de Valsequillo y Los Llanetes por la cálida acogida, la comida y la amistad. Me encantaría volver a sus centros en un futuro no muy lejano y compartir más canciones y cuentos. Un saludo desde EOI Santa Brigida .... David Shea

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Uncle Frank's Adventures in France (Delmar Lemming)

One of my most colorful and endearing relatives was Frank Bergeron, my Uncle Frank, who was a renowned butcher for most of his adult life. He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, which was about halfway between our town and Boston. He settled in Franklin County with my Aunt Gertrude, who was always his beloved "Trudy." Though they never had any children of their own, Frank was the local butcher up Federal Street and everyone loved him. Frank's success with us kids was partly related to a stash of penny candy that crowded the shelves opposite his butcher display window. Those treats kept many children busy while their folks were ordering meat.

In the 1940s, Europe was bombed and in tatters, an estimated 20 million Russians died,some with a name on a stone, others just left by the wayside in the frozen waste. My dad was called up to be a soldier and duly served on bases in Florida and Texas before being shipped out to France. Years later, my father would recall guarding German prisoners in Texas. Though they could not communicate with him, he commented on what nice people they were. Family guys. It was a terrible time for all concerned. A world war that reached even the Orient.

Frank enlisted too but because he was a butcher, he was ordered to take charge of feeding the multitudes on a troop trip headed for France. We have photos of Frank cutting big slabs of beef as hungry mess hands watch with glee. One of them, who fancied himself an artist, sketched Frank a dedicatory cartoon (attached). Although it was war, Frank seemed to have the time of his life. Could you blame him? He was doing what he did best. He knew prime rib like he knew his name and made the most of the adventure.

By the way, although Frank was born in Eastern Massachusetts, his family originated in Quebec and he spoke fluent French. So once he was stationed in France, he won the hearts of everyone he met. He found it easy to woo the locals with his command of their language, particularly in the sing song cadence of Quebec.

I will never forget my dear Uncle Frank who passed away in his mid 80s just a year after my Aunt Gert died. They were a colorful team who always had time for their beloved relatives, just like adopted grandparents to my four sibling Sheas and me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Want to Avoid Stress? Nancy's Advice

Our NI 1B student Nancy, a computer programmer originally from Venezuela. She offered some great advice for avoiding stress:

"Don't take your work home with you! Keep work at work and enjoy your family at home!"

Thanks, Nancy!

Adventures in Bilingualism in Valsequillo (Delmar Lemming)

We had a great time singing in the hills above Telde. Some teachers were asking me about the bilingual rhyme about Mickey Mouse. It is the only song in my repertoire devoted to this revered rodent so I am happy to pass it along! All the best and keep singing! Now in Spanish...

Esta es la cancioncita que entonamos el otro día. Gracias por aquella cálida acogida!
-- Delmar Lemming
--( David Shea)

Mickey Mouse
Was building a house
How many nails does he need?
One, two, three, etc!**

Mickey Mouse iba a hacer una casita,
¿Cuántos clavos necesita?
Una do-la, te-la, canela,
Be-lillo Velón,
Que toquen las cuatro
Que ya casi son!

(**Learned many years ago. ** Aprendido hace muchos años!)

Queso pa' el Día de Canarias, ¡muchas gracias!

Tuve la enorme suerte de cantar en dos colegios públicos esta semana, el de Valsequillo y el de Los Llanetes (un poco más cerca de Telde). Cantamos la famosísima oda a Mariqilla del Pino (la de San José), para el Día de Canarias. Pero en honor a mi querido compañeros de Mixti Fori - Marcos Hormiga y Phil Jordan -- la cantamos en inglés.

Gracias a Patricia y María Dolores por organizar estos dos maravillosos encuentros con sus alumnos. Y gracias por el suntuoso almuerzo en Valsequillo (con esta plantilla tan chachi!) y por el queso y dulce de leche de Los Llanetes. Qué detallazo!

Un saludo desde el EoI de Santa Brigida
Delmar Lemming
(David Shea)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Of Pencils and PCs (Yaiza, our resident engineer!)

(Editor's note: Yaiza, a third year student, is a prominent engineer and formidable mathematician who was asked to compare how work has changed with the advent of the computer and communication age.)

I am an engineer and I do not know how my work would have been ten years ago because I just recently graduated from university. I only know that my teachers did their projects with a pencil, an eraser and a piece of paper. They calculated their installations with their own hands and they spent two or three months on an installation perhaps. Nowadays, I can use certain software on a PC and carry out an installation project in four or five hours. On the whole, if you use the computer in your work, you will finish it almost before you can think.

Another example is the way you draw out your plans. To use the PC is better than using a ruler, the former is cleaner, easier and quicker by far. So computers have improved my work but we still need to understand the basic concepts involved and work with great care. Yaiza NI 1B