Saturday, December 31st

A Fantasy story about our world

name of author: Maryet Maks

The E8

-'I'm fed up,' Earth said emphatically, in a low grinding voice.
-'Yes, It's been too much,' Fire blazed, kindled by the enthusiasm of the others.
-'I think,' spattered Water, 'we've given enough warnings. For years I didn't rain and it became dryer and dryer, then I rained a lot, the land flooded and I became dead tired. It's time to swing into action. Let the ice cap melt!'
-'We have to convene a general meeting with the board of directors, urgently.' Air said, hitting all other elements in one emission of her breath. Air, together with Earth, Water and Fire, completed with Sun, Moon and Wind formed the E7. Over the last sixty years they'd had to increase their meetings more and more, because things were going wrong. They shared their concern about World, who became filthier and fuller. Richness had become too powerful; Wisdom manifested himself not enough. Faith, Hope and Love didn't prove themselves at all. War and Peace never stopped quarrelling and Flora and Fauna were ruined by the ignorance of all the others. If the E7 didn't do something, Life would die.
Air breathed to Wind, 'call everybody together. The President Sun, Moon the Vice-President, and all the Ambassadors, Poverty and Richness; Faith, Hope and Love; War and Peace; Young and Old; and don't forget Flora and Fauna. And these two hard-headed folks, Wisdom and Stupidity. And of course Life, don't forget to invite Life to the meeting.'
Wind was the secretary-general of the E7; an industrious little fellow who had several times out of enthusiasm, blown the whole pile of World's paperwork out of the window. Earth nodded approvingly, her arms resting on her bulging belly, 'Yes, if Life won't learn, she'll die.'
Life depended on the Ambassadors served by the Ministers, of which there were an awful lot. However, the problem was that they were all working against each other. Beautiful and Ugly, for example, worked in the Department of Environment, so did Clean and Dirty. Money and Barter and Give and Take worked in the Treasury. Rise and Fall, Progress and Stoppage fell under Transport. Hunger en Gluttony made each other's life a misery in the Department of Food and Fisheries. Holiday and Work were the two Ministers who daily beat each other's brains at the Department of Industry.
Wind did his best. All the Ambassadors and Ministers were blown together with the E7 on the 23rd of March in the year 2012. It was the biggest meeting of the century.
-'It's been enough,' opened Earth and banged her fist on the table, so hard that her pockmarked face full of craters and volcanoes almost burst. When she did that, her intestines would rumble for days afterwards. She leaned backward in her enormous chair and looked menacingly from one to the other. She continued, 'Poverty and Richness, you are ruling the world but do nothing about maintaining a balance. Wisdom, you were supposed to win from Stupidity, but Stupidity seems to be stronger whilst you act more stupid. War, when do you learn from Peace that your presence is not wanted at all. Flora and Fauna, you do disappoint us, you let yourself be trampled over and destroyed by Life, who can't live without you.' Earth was backed up by Air, who started to fulminate against the other Ambassadors, 'you, Faith, you have failed. Love, you are so egocentric you only think about self-love and you Hope, you left Life in the lurch many years ago.'
Old and Young were dismayed. Young patted Life on his bent head, she realised the game was over. They had been trifling too much with the big guys. Together they had laughed at the Elements. They had been playing cat and mouse with them and had called out, 'catch me, catch me if you can, you can't get me.' The E7 was uttering its vexation now, or rather, they were angry, very angry.
-'Life,' Sun spoke with her ever so dominating charisma. When she opened her mouth everything and everybody paled. 'We will suspend you and take over the rule indefinitely. I'm not talking about months but years, hundreds of years. Death will be your destiny, of course one or the other depends on Faith, Hope and Love. But we of the E7 do agree. Wind will start to blow, Water will rise, Fire will ignite and I'm going to shine.'
Exactly nine months elapsed before their words became action. From the 23rd of March to the 23rd of December in the year 2012 it didn't blow. All the elements remained static. There was no Wind from Europe as far as Japan, from China to Lapland, from Africa to Siberia and India to South- and North America. These months were necessary for the preparation. It was the big lull before the storm.
Then on the night of the 23rd of December 2012 the light didn't fade. Sun kept on shining. Water crept on the land, as a greedy monster. She sucked on roots of trees and foundations of buildings. Dunes, dykes and mountains became saturated with her ruthless fluid. Sometimes a tentacle of Water grabbed, in one wave, a whole city or a forest into her depths. Cheered on by Wind whole countries were swept from the map. Life crawled up the mountains together with Fauna. They tried to save themselves under Flora's shade. Nothing worked. Higher and higher they had to climb, as far as the mountain tops. And there again were Wind, Fire and Sun to harrass them. To stay alive, Life had to dispatch old Life. The young and strong ones nibbled on toes and fingers of the Old and weak. Poverty and Richness disappeared. Faith, Hope and Love let Life down, again. Flora and Fauna did their best to help where they could, by offering themselves as nourishment with their roots, berries and raw meat. Wisdom and Stupidity were constantly negotiating. When Wisdom thought of something clever to survive, Stupidity wrecked it immediately.
It took some years, ten, fifteen, a hundred, that the Land of living Life changed into a Land of dying Death. At first the E7 spoke of Land of Young Death, but after some hundreds of years more, they called it Land of Old Death.
They had their way, Sun and Moon, Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Wind. Life was sentenced to Old Death. Earth had become nothing more than Blowing Sand, Choppy Water and Singeing Fire.
After nine hundred and ninety years the E7 had another meeting.
-'I'm bored,' Earth sighed. She suffered from the heat. She was fatter, but looked much better, less polluted.
-'You wanted this,' Sun said irritated.
-'Yes, but so hard, so relentless, so vast and void I have become into one boundless desert,' Earth moaned.
-'But what else do you want?' rippled Water, 'Do you want Life back on Earth?'
-'No, no, that is the one and only source of trouble. To give Poverty and Richness a leg up again, together with Hunger and Gluttony as Ministers?' cried Wind.
-'And where do we find Flora and Fauna so fast?' crackled Fire, who had become very self-confident, because he played a role of importance now. However, it had helped having his new girl friend, TwoThousandDegrees. Thanks to her he hadn't stop glowing.
-'Faith, Hope and Love have to be somewhere,' Earth said again. 'They are old souls and not easy to bring to their knees.'
-'Do you have a clue where they will be?' blew Wind to Air. She always pretended to know everything, but this time she shook her misty head.
-'Okay, you know what,' Water said, 'I draw back, I'm fed up with this endless flowing. 'Wind, why don't you abate and Fire, if you extinguish, lets see what happens.'
He stoked up and said, 'Yes but, eeh, when I snuff out what'll I do with TwoThousandDegrees?'
-'Get rid of her, she is far too hot anyway,' Moon said with his pleasant full-mooned face. He never said much, but when he said something everybody listened. Fire nodded and smouldered shyly.
-'I don't care. I shine anyhow, a bit more or less doesn't matter to me,' blistered Sun.
Another ten years past. Earth kept on turning around Sun. Wind dropped. Water slipped off into the depths under Land. Fire smouldered softly on. Water heaved shining and lovely in the distance between the barren, though proudly erected mountain tops on the distant horizon.
The E7 waited, but nothing seemed to happen. Once TwoThousandDegrees had pulled back into the cool shadows, Earth started to steam. The atmosphere began to enclose her again. The nights became cooler; Moon gave space to the Stars. Autumn changed into Winter and Water into ice.
Although Earth had become wasteland, there was one place that had escaped the fury of rising Water, fiery Flames and storming Wind. In this place the sand had also been blown into heaps. But there were some trees left, though they were black scorched silhouettes, firmly fixed on thousand year old roots, still visible as dead branch arms in deep craters, struck by Wind and Water. There were some walls still standing, piled up by human hands. The stones had fossilised, which indicated Life lived there once. A piece of a tarmacked road lay broken up leading to nowhere. An iron wire coiled in a noose hung on a branch, its prey decayed long ago.
The E7 had, in spite of all its fury spared this place, without knowing I was sleeping here. Water had rippled past me. Fire had only licked and singed around me. And Wind had experienced the benefit of a lull in this place. I had hidden myself in a nest of sandy grains for 1001 long years. Sometimes I had opened one eye and observed that the world about me was still in turmoil. Then, I'd turned around, sighed and slept on, for another hundred or more years.
It was in the year 3013 that I really woke up. Winter was once again overtaken by Spring; a cool breeze stroked my bald skull and a dew drop landed on my lip. An unprecedented power of growth inflated my breast. In a few hours my head stood alert on my neck. I stretched my stiff limbs, looked around and was startled by the dead scorched landscape around me. I was alone and wondered if I would survive. Daily, without effort I grew a few feet into the air and the ground. I smelled the briny sea in the distance and some days later, as I towered above the sand dune I saw its vast simmering surface too. The sky above it was glowing red. Sun sank behind Earth, and as Moon rose into the night, he smiled at me. I grew and grew, my body became thicker and my feet became firmly rooted into Earth. With a thousand arms and ten thousand fingers I became a Tree of Life. But I stood alone, I couldn't move, I couldn't go anywhere.


It is still the year 3013 and I 'm dozing. I believe it is summer now. I believe it, because my leaves produce so much shadows around my trunk, that I'm not sure about how much light is in the sky. I sense movement in the air as my crown starts to rustle. Instantly, I'm fully awake and peer through my foliage into the empty landscape. Above me hangs a spider as large as life. It shines and blisters in sinking Sun. Its body is wide and high, with eyes like windows and huge antennas. It descends slowly scattering the loose sand and lands on its somewhat bent, high steel legs, only a few feet away from my trunk. After a while a door opens; I wonder why this beast has to land here, just here.
I'd seen these sort of monsters landing on Earth before, more than 1001 years ago. I then stood between the trees in the forest, watching TV, we did so quite regularly. We trees looked at big flat digital screens with a very clear picture. I didn't understand all of it, but I found it very interesting.
Suddenly, I see movement from the giant. A ladder is thrown out, it unfolds in five segments. Someone descends. On further inspection I see it is Scotty, from 'Beam me up, Scotty' of Star Trek. He is followed by no less than Ken and Barbie, with long, stiff legs they sink deeply into the loose sand. Seconds later the Tele Tubbies tumble out. For a short while nothing happens, then someone is pushed out. It looks like he resists and argues. When I realise it's Bill Gates, I'm frightened. Wasn't he the ambassador of Richness? An elderly man follows him now; he looks like Nelson Mandela. I recognise Pope Paul II, even after his death he stayed the ambassador of Faith. Now Love is coming out, it's a beautiful girl, no one less than Nicole Kidman. A critically sufferer of AIDS stumbles down the ladder, while leaning on Nicole. And then, I don't believe my eyes, I see George Bush descend, wasn't he Stupidity? Another handful of celebrities sweep down, Bono, HE2? and Geldof; even that asshole Saddam; Armstrong, wasn't he a cyclist? I see Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Oprah Winfrey, both in white starched blouses and black pencil skirts, stumble down into the loose sand, their hair still straight. Arafat and Milosovitsj are on the stairs now, both waving with their familiar arrogance. The last one on the ladder is a bend old man who stumbles over his beard. I saw him only a few times on a striped video, it's unmistakably Bin Laden. I've forgotten who he was, Wisdom or War.
Somehow, these old Ambassadors and Ministers have escaped the frenzy of the E7. Did they spend 1001 years together in that Spaceship? It sure is big, but big enough for all of them? I think I might be dreaming and pinch one of my branches. Then I hear the sweet voice of Nicole.
-'Look, there is a tree!' She walks towards me and unfolds an old chequed blanket, right under my arms. She sits down and says, 'Come Georgie-boy, be good and sit next to me. And you Binnie, you sit over here.' They both obeyed her, Stupidity and Wisdom or were they War and Peace, and trotted instantly towards Love. The sufferer of AIDS leans tired and broken against my trunk. Richness put a few hundred dollar notes in his pocket. As if that would be of any use here. Nelson, together with Ayaan and Oprah hobble along to join the others, it's a funny sight with the two women in high heels. The three of them sat on the department of Hope, I remember. Now Bono and Geldof draw closer together, with Saddam. Didn't they represent Good and Evil? The Pope jumps behind Armstrong on the bike, they won't get far in the loose sand, or Faith must think he's Jesus walking over water.
'What a blessing this fresh air, after all those choking years in space,' says Ayaan. 'It's like paradise here'.
-'Yes Ayaan, that's how it started, don't you remember', says Bin.
-'The axe of evil,' mumbles George.
-'No', Faith says, he slides off Armstrong's bike and flops down on the blanket, 'don't get everything mixed up'.
-''Who's mixed up here?' says Bono.
-'Wasn't I the axe of evil?' it's Saddam, who interupts.
-'Yes exactly and that's one of the reasons we ceased to exist. I gave so much money away and had such a good idea to digitalise the whole world. War would have disappeared and everybody would have been rich and happy.' Bill Gates says.
-'Do you, f-----g believe that?' Geldof asks Bono.
Arafat mumbles to Milosovitsj, 'we know everything about it, don't we, the Jews may have been the chosen people, but Palestine is ours.'
'Exactly, that's how it is,' says Milo.
-'Come on boys, don't quarrel, we have coped together in Space for more than thousand years. And now, back on Earth, we're squabbling again?' It is Oprah, who jumps up, straitening her skirt. Nicole backs her up, she too gets up and places a hand on each of the shoulders of Bin and George.
-'I have an idea, let's do a role-play and turn the tables. George, you play Bin; Saddam, you put yourself in Nelson's place and Nelson, you be Pope.' She walks towards the Pope and taps him on the cheek, 'you have AIDS'. To the poor sufferer of AIDS, she says, 'How about you become Bill, and play the rich guy'.
-Good idea, Nicole,' Ayaan claps her hands in pleasure. 'Let these men demonstrate where it went wrong. We'll give the instructions.'
'Tut tut, ho ho, are you saying that it's all the men's fault?' Armstrong asks.
-'Hey, Nicole do you have a role for me? You must know I loved playing games as a child, I especially liked folding aeroplanes out of old newspapers,' laughs Bin.
Nicole bites her lip as she ponders on his question, a deep frown creasing her smooth forehead.
'Alright Bin, you play me, Love'.
I tower high above the party and laugh out loud, what a bunch of children they still are. Scotty, Barbie and Ken, assisted by the Tele Tubbies, are busy cleaning and securing the Spider. With iron wires and stakes they fix it into the sand. Suddenly it looks like a big tent. Once ready they apptoach the group.
The newly appointed actors are preparing for the play, clothes are changed, beards are shaven, and hair is dyed. I'm the witness of a real spectacle. It seems to be an open-air theatre, where they are rehearsing a Shakespeare play.
-'Thou shall not steal or kill,' I hear Binny-Bush say.
-'Lend me your wife', says Kidman-Bin to the AIDS suffering Pope.
-'Yes, but then you'll get sick too', he answers.
-'I don't mind, I want to be a human belonging to a real world'.
-'How does it feel to be a Catholic?' Saddam-Mandela asks Mandela-Pope
-'Great, but I was already one, when being Mandela. But you? Must be a different feeling for an Islamic'.
-'Come on guys, try to be serious,' Nicole shouts. 'You have to take some pains to really act your parts and in particular to listen to each other. We call that communication.'
It's going to be a pretty kettle of fish, the evening falls and Scotty turns on the headlights of the Spider. My branches throw long shadows acting as wings in the theatre. The play turns macabre. The men can't stop any more. They change roles constantly now. Bono plays Bush and Bob is Bin. They argue about 9/11. Bin says that Bush flew the planes. Bush gets furious and says that it was Arafat. Mandela jokes, saying it was Gates. Armstrong, who just has arrived on his bike says, 'it was me', because he thinks they were arguing about who won the latest Tour the France. For a second the tension is awkward. Then, Oprah bursts into laughter. Ayaan too, followed by Nicole.
Bin, Saddam, Milosovitsj, even Bush, whose known for his lack of humor, start to laugh, albeit stiffly. But the laughter is contagious and within minutes everybody shrieks with laughter. They roll over and bend double around my trunk. I don't know what comes over me, but a smile appears between my foliage.
Nicole stands straight and shouts over the shrieks, cries and howls, 'Cut, okay guys, this was great. Tomorrow we are going to film, the best shots we'll send to the E7. They have to see that we are dead serious, that we are fit and able to rule the World, with one God, one Faith and one Community of Love.'
The next morning the Spider has gone. I still wonder if I have been dreaming. But not long after Life returns to Earth lichen grows on my trunk. Beetles and ants tickle my branches as they scuttle up and down. Birds make nests between my leaves. The foundations of the old fossilised stone walls become the bases for new houses. A town grows up around me. The tarmacked road is restored and provides a link with the outside world. People come and go and they look happy. I hear their laughter and chatter as they pass me. I heard they had made that film and it was well received by the E7, so they have given Life another chance. I've even heard that Life joined the E7, it now operates as one solid and peaceful organisation called the E8.

Maryet on 12.31.05 @ 03:01 PM CST [more..] [No Comments]


Wednesday, October 5th

Tomatoes - tomaten

name of author: Maryet

Aubergine, Tomato and Paprika, among others, belong to the family of Solanaceae. They are called fruit vegetables and grow abundantly in our garden, we do eat them with pleasure. Look on our Vyr cooking site for the recipes

Is there anyone who doesn't like Tomatoes, or Solanum Lycopersicum? They were originally found, like the potato (they belong to the same family) in the Andes. ... More.

Wie houdt niet van de Tomaat, of Solanum Lycopersicum. Ze komen net als de aardappelen (ze behoren tot dezelfde familie) uit de Andes, waar ze door de Inca's werden gekweekt toen de Spanjaarden er rond 1500 arriveerden. ... More. Lees verder onder de Engelse tekst.

Maryet on 10.05.05 @ 05:22 PM CST [more..] [No Comments]


Monday, October 3rd

Pepper - Paprika

name of author: Maryet

The Paprika or Capsicum annuum is the sweet, hot and very hot pepper. The sweet green paprika, that we often eat, is actually not ripe yet. ..... More.

De Paprika of Capsicum annuum is de zoete, hete en zeer hete zogenaamde peper. De zoete groene paprika, die we vaak eten, is eigenlijk onrijp. ..... More. Lees verder onder de Engelse tekst.

Maryet on 10.03.05 @ 07:36 PM CST [more..] [No Comments]


Sunday, October 2nd

Ohh, aubergines

name of author: Maryet

The Aubergine or Solanum melongena and Solanum esculentum is also called 'eggplant'. The wild aubergine looks alike a chicken egg. ... More.

De Aubergine of Solanum melongena én Solanum esculentum wordt ook wel 'eierplant' genoemd, naar aanleiding van het Engelse 'eggplant'. De wilde aubergine lijkt namelijk op een kippenei. ... More. Lees verder onder Engelse tekst.

Maryet on 10.02.05 @ 05:02 PM CST [more..] [No Comments]


Sunday, August 28th


name of author: Maryet y Raúl

Water !

Just washed my hands and let the water run until really cold, a bad habit. During teeth brushing I close the tab, a rather good habit. The toilet I flush with the economical button. Showering is a water consuming business each day. Better shower once in two days, briefly. Not so much for pleasure, only for hygiene.

Water !

It didn't rain properly for six months and we might as well say: it didn't rain since May last year (2004). The land is dry, grass is golden like straw, trees droop with yellow leaves; Shepards complain, there is not enough to eat for the sheep and goats.

We may not barbecue in the open air. Fatal forest fires have raged through thousands of parched acres. The heat wave in much of southern Europe has put hospitals and emergency-care workers on alert.

Water !

Spain is suffering its worst drought in more than half a century. Rivers are withering, vital crops have been scorched to death, and drinking water is being rationed just as the country hits its peak tourist season. With poor water management the norm, the crisis is only going to worsen, experts and officials warn.

"It is very probable that next year will also be a dry year," Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said. "A new drought cycle [of several years] could be starting."

Agricultural losses have been put at nearly $2 billion, at least a quarter of that in the southern Andalusia region, where Spain's olive groves are starting to suffer the same devastation that has so far caused the loss of tons of wheat, barley, sugar beets and other vegetables.

Cows and sheep are also threatened, farm unions say, as are wild animals. Flamingos, storks, boars and the endangered Iberian lynx in Spain's Donana and other national parks are said to be suffering from serious dehydration, which could interfere with their reproductive and migratory habits.

This winter registered the lowest rainfall since 1947, when records were first kept, the Spanish National Meteorological Institute says. In the driest parts, such as Andalusia and the rural western region of Extremadura, rainfall was less than half of normal.

Spain's water shortages are also a function of pricing.

"Wasting water is cheap," said Julio Barea of Spanish Greenpeace. "Nobody would leave a light on [in Spain] because electricity is expensive. But few care if they leave a hose running."

Many farmers still irrigate by flooding their orchards and fields. Recycling and conservation are rare.

Seven of Spain's 17 provinces have closed or restricted swimming pools, fountains and the watering of public and private gardens and yards this summer. Madrid's residents were appalled recently to learn that the city was using drinking water on the greens of its parks. After a newspaper expose, officials said the practice had been halted.

Farms, not individual households, use most of Spain's water. By most estimates, agriculture accounts for at least 75% of water use, but only a small fraction of the GDP.

To fight the drought, Narbona has set aside $400 million for 20 new desalination plants, emergency wells and more recycling. - from:

Sunday afternoon, suddenly it's raining cats and dogs. Flower pots are flooded, garden cushions drenched, the streets are swollen with water that pushes itself underneath our front door. Water finds its way into the hallway.

No problem ! We dance in the rain, because when will be the next time !?!

Raul on 08.28.05 @ 04:35 PM CST [link] [No Comments]


Monday, June 20th

Zwaluwen in huis

name of author: Marjet Maks

De vogel waarmee de mens zich goed kan identificeren is de zwaluw. De boerenzwaluw bedoel ik, want de huiszwaluw, de oeverzwaluw, de gierzwaluw en de nachtzwaluw zijn vogels met weer andere bijzonderheden. We volgen onze boerenzwaluwen op de voet, we hebben zelfs een hele familie aan het nestelen in de molino. Het begon met pa en moe, het eerste jaar dat we hier kwamen begonnen ook zij, zelfbewust en vol vertrouwen, met de bouw van hun nest aan een balk. Halverwege de zomer vlogen hun drie jongen uit. Het is bijzonder om te zien hoe die nog onvolgroeide vogels met halve staarten en magere vleugels in het diepe gegooid worden, zo'n eerste vliegdag. Onwennig fladderen ze van nest, naar grote spijker in de muur, naar bengelende ijzerdraad naast de deur. En maar oefenen. Dag twee volgen ze pa en moe al mee naar buiten, door de kier in de deur en wordt er vliegles gegeven. Want vliegen moeten ze en ze leren snel. Na enkele dagen volgt het kroost de ouders met dezelfde onvolprezen vliegkunst. Buiten spelen, vliegen vangen hoog in de lucht, en weer terug naar huis. De daling wordt al vroeg ingezet, in één lijn scheren ze rechtstreeks naar de kier van de deur, hun hangar binnen. Komt een van ons zojuist naar buiten dan missen zij ons nooit, de vleugel is slechts voelbaar als luchtverplaatsing langs een wang of schouder.

Pa en moe begonnen nog aan een tweede nest half juli. Bezorgd vroegen wij ons af of de kleintjes wel gereed zouden zijn voor de lange tocht naar het diepe zuiden. En inderdaad eind augustus verslapte de aandacht. De ouders met hun inmiddels volgroeide kroost hadden andere besognes, ze waren de grote oversteek aan het voorbereiden. De kleintjes hingen joelend en hongerig over de rand van het nest te krijsen om meer eten. Totdat Raúl er een onder het nest vond, in shock. Hij zette hem terug, maar pa en moe hadden definitief de interesse verloren. Begin september vertrok de familie al. En wat voelden we ons leeg. We fantaseerden ze te volgen ver weg in donker Afrika. Zouden we ze herkennen?

Op 5 maart, het volgende jaar, legden de eerste twee zwaluwen weer aan. Uitgeteld zaten ze op de ijzerdraad aan de balk naast de deur, Raúl had die zo gebogen dat ze met z'n allen naast elkaar konden zitten. Pas half maart was het hele gezelschap weer voltallig; pa, moe en de drie kinderen, altijd netjes gekleed en onmiskenbaar in hun tuxedo. De hele volgende maand was de bedrijvigheid niet van de lucht, het werd een gaan en komen van vele vogels en vooral een levendig gekwebbel, net Japans. Op een avond begrepen we het, pa en moe zaten op de rand van het nest en zes zwaluwen zaten op de draad. Zoons en dochter kwamen hun verloofdes voorstellen. Na een dag of wat kwam er een soort rust. Twee stellen bleken vertrokken, een stel bleef achter, wij vermoedden dat het de dochter was, die met haar jonge echtgenoot lekker dicht bij pa en moe kwam bouwen.

Gefascineerd keken we toe, hoe het jonge stel een plek koos en in drie dagen een volwaardig zwaluwenhuis aan de balk hing. Af en aan vlogen de vogels met bolletjes klei in de snavels, om en om drukten ze die op elkaar aan de balk. We volgden een cursus leembouw onder ons eigen dak. Na drie nachten werd de kille draad verruild voor hun liefdesnestje. De eitjes en jongen volgden wat weken later. Zes jongen, broers, zusters, neven en nichten vlogen uit dat jaar.

Dit jaar kwam de familie opnieuw terug, vanaf 4 maart streken er 7 vogels neer in onze molino. (Dat zou kunnen betekenen dat er op de terugweg vanuit Afrika, drie verloren gingen). Dit jaar hebben we drie nesten aan de balken hangen, zes ouders vliegen af en aan. Negen neefjes en nichtjes joelen naar elkaar over de rand van het nest en krijsen als hun pa of moe binnenvliegt. Als we naar ze staan te kijken, hoewel ze aan ons en de honden gewend zijn, verlaat de preutse ouder in een sierlijke zwaai de kraamkamer weer. Pa en moe zijn niet van plan vrijelijk de borst geven, zoals mensenmoeders dat wel in het openbaar plachten te doen.

Tegen donker, steevast een minuutje of wat later met het lengen der dagen, komt de familie thuis. Zes nieuwbakken pa's en moe's hangen op de rand van hun nesten beschermend om de kleintjes heen. Alleen verwonderen we ons over die ene eenzame zevende oom, hij brengt de nacht alleen op de draad door als een beschermheilige van de familie, net een portier. Waarom vond hij dit jaar geen vrouwtje?

Zwaluwen in huis

Maryet on 06.20.05 @ 06:20 PM CST [link] [No Comments]


Saturday, May 21st

De oude eik

name of author: Annemarie Breedveld van Velzen

Ik wil jullie het verhaal vertellen van de oude eik. Heel, heel lang geleden stond die eik, hier in het Diemerbos, dat toen natuurlijk nog niet zo heette. Die eik heeft jaren en jaren onder een dikke laag aarde gelegen. Nu is hij weer opgegraven en boven de grond gekomen.

Vroeger, duizenden jaren geleden, was hier een groot donker bos vol met oude eiken. De grond was heel drassig en zompig, eigenlijk was het meer een moerasbos. In dat natte bos stond onze oude eik, hij was een echte mopperkont en zeurde: 'Ik wou dat ik m'n voeten eens kon drogen. Ik heb geen zin meer in al dat water om me heen. Ik wil op een heuvel staan en in de verte kijken. Als het hier zo nat blijft loop ik weg en ga ik mijn heil ergens anders zoeken.'

Ondanks al dat geklaag had de eik vele vrienden, tussen zijn takken was het een drukte van belang. Daar woonden spechten, vlaamse gaaien en steenuilen. Op de bladeren zaten rupsen, motten en galwespen. Tussen z'n tenen groeide mos, varens en paddenstoelen. Eekhoorntjes- brood om precies te zijn. De eik was hun huis, daarom hielden ze veel van hem. Maar ze vonden hem ook een beetje zielig.

Gelukkig mopperde de eik niet de hele dag, hij sliep ook veel. En als de wind zachtjes door zijn bladeren ruistte bespraken de vogels, de mossen en de kevers het leed van hun oude eik. Ze waren wel een beetje bang dat de eik straks toch de benen zou nemen en wat moest er dan van hun terecht komen? 's Morgens heel vroeg, als de eik nog sliep, fluisterde het eekhoorntjesbrood tegen de steenuil, 'psst, heb je het gehoord, de eik wil droge voeten... hij is zo ongelukkig in ons natte bos. Wat kunnen we toch doen, om hem weer opgewekt te zien.'

'Ik weet het ook niet, ik vlieg nogal eens rond,' zei de steenuil, 'maar overal, tot de zee aan toe is het nat en moerassig. Vlak langs het bos loopt een riviertje. Daar stroomt veel water naar toe maar er blijft hier ook veel water staan. Daarom is het bos zo drassig.' Op dat moment schuivelde de ringslang voorbij. Hij hoorde de steenuil tegen het eekhoorntjesbrood praten over de natte voeten van de eik.

'Sssss, ik heb gehoord dat het nog veel natter gaat worden de komende winter, nat én koud.' De eik werd net wakker en pikte die laatste woorden van de ringslang op. 'Als het hier nog natter wordt, gooi ik het bijltje erbij neer. Dan heb ik er geen zin meer in om eik te zijn', mopperde hij en al zijn takken kraakten van ellende. Zijn vrienden schrokken erg en deden maar of ze het niet hoorden.

Zo ging het door, weken, maanden, jaren gingen voorbij en onze eik bleef doorzagen en klagen. De vogels op zijn takken, de rupsen die knabbelden aan zijn blaadjes en de zwammen die woekerden tussen zijn tenen maakten zich ernstige zorgen maar wisten niet wat te doen. En dus gebeurde er niks.

Het stormde af en toe flink, waardoor de oude eik een paar van z'n mooiste takken verloor. Die braken af en bleven geknakt op de grond liggen. Soms kwam er een hert of een eland voorbij om z'n gewei aan de takken te schuren. Ook zij hoorden dan het zuchten van die zielige eik die maar ouder en ouder werd. Bij een laatste storm ging het ook nog flink onweren. De bliksem sloeg in, boem, knetter..., een lichtflits en de eik liet z'n kop hangen. De meeste van zijn vrienden, de vogels en kevers, zelfs enkele plantjes die zich in de oksels van zijn stam en takken hadden genesteld, waren weggetrokken. Zij waren het gemopper beu geworden en hadden jongere, gezelligere bomen opgezocht.

Het ging slechter en slechter met de eik. Er kwamen steeds meer overstromingen van de zee en zijn voeten werden steeds natter. Nog één keer stormde het vreselijk hard en de eik waaide om, met veel gekraak klapte hij op de grond. Omdat het zo nat was gebeurde dat ook met alle andere bomen in het bos. Ze konden niet meer zo diep wortelen vanwege al dat water om hun voeten. Want net als wij, diep onder water, krijgen boomwortels ook geen lucht meer.

Het bos werd zee. Modderig water spoelde tussen en over de gevallen stammen. De zee steeg en daalde en iedere keer bleef er een flinke laag zand en klei, slib heet dat, achter. Al die sliblaagjes vormden een dik kleipakket. Zo werd het hele bos afgedekt en kwam het onder de grond te liggen. Na duizend jaar of meer zakte het water weer. De zee trok zich langzaam terug. En de grond droogde.

Er gingen weer mosjes groeien, toen kwamen er planten, struiken en opnieuw grote bomen. Vogels nestelden tussen de takken, pikten torretjes uit het schors, wilde dieren groeven holen tussen de wortels. Er kwamen mensen, die slootjes groeven zodat het land nog droger werd. Ze zaagden de bomen en struiken om, en gingen koeien houden. Zo ontstond hier honderden jaren geleden een landbouwgebied met boerderijen, weilanden, sloten en koeien.

Tot tien jaar geleden! Jullie werden geboren en de mensen vonden dat er weer meer bossen moesten komen. Er werden hier opnieuw bomen geplant. En weten jullie wat nou zo bijzonder is? Bij het graven van de vijvers kwamen de stronken boven van die oude eiken die hier duizenden jaren geleden stonden. Door iedereen vergeten, omdat ze al die tijd onder de grond hadden gelegen.

Ook die oude moppereik, die zo'n last had van natte voeten is opgegraven. Hij is bewaard gebleven onder de grond. Omdat daar geen zuurstof was, is de eik niet weggerot. Nu ligt hij langs het pad, eindelijk mag hij lekker drogen in de zon. Er groeien weer paddestoelen op z'n bast. Er lopen weer kevers over hem heen. Hij biedt opnieuw onderdak aan heel veel beestjes, schimmels en zwammen. Door hem ontstaat er weer nieuw leven. Toch zal de eik daar niet lang blijven liggen. Het is weer te nat voor hem, vooral in de winter. Langzaam rot de stam weg. Alleen als we hem binnen halen om echt helemaal droog te worden, blijft de eik heel. Dan kan hij nog honderden jaren, nee duizenden jaren zijn verhaal vertellen.

Guest on 05.21.05 @ 08:05 PM CST [link] [No Comments]


Tuesday, March 29th


Living in a remote hamlet somewhere in Andalucia means living in a Catholic culture too. Although the practise of Catholicism in this part of Spain is broadminded - women go to Sunday mass, men go to a bar - once or twice a year the church puts his mark on the festivities in the villages. Each one has its own Saint, who watches over the agricultural season. In our village, Mairena, the holy Marcus guides the start of the sowing season in April. In September the harvest season is celebrated with the Santa Christo de la Luz, in an impressive procession the inhabitants confirm their faith.

Image of Christo de la Luz - click here

Our Christ is a heavy statue of painted plaster. A pathetic example of his suffering; hanging on a cross, nails through bloody hands, a stingy crown on a wounded head, and grazes on his knees. Twice a year he is taken out of his niche and set on a wooden stretcher, covered by red and white carnations. The strong men of the village carry him around for a few hours. Leaving after mass just before sunset. The local brass band leads the way, playing solemn tunes, followed by the mayor, the priest and the virgins of the village. People, with dripping candles in the hand, form two rows on either side of the street, their backs pressed on the facades. Some women go barefooted. Nightfall creeps slowly into the streets of the village. Hundreds of candles give the pageant its depth, long shadows moving as ghosts through the sloping alleys. During the three hour walk every ten minutes fireworks are lit by two men carrying a big paper bag between them in which are the rockets. They are sent into the dark sky, as if it are fluorescent swirling fish. As an outsider I experience the committed devotion of faith of the people around me. The moment Christ is carried into the church again an impressive fireworks bursts, showing a colourful display above the crowd. My eyes swell and men and women around me swallow their emotion too. After several minutes of extremely loud noise, the silence is suddenly. People, relieved, share their thoughts. Slowly the crowd dissolves. People go home to have their supper and prepare themselves for the dance later in the night.

Maryet on 03.29.05 @ 07:52 PM CST [link] [No Comments]


Sunday, March 6th

La Alhambra, El Generalife and El Albayzin

In the shelter of the highest peaks in the Iberian Peninsula, the Mulhacen (3,481m) and the Veleta (3,392m), lies the beautiful Andalusian city of Granada with its Parador called "San Francisco".

The city witnessed the end of Arab rule in Spain when Boabdil, the last Nasrid king, surrendered and handed the keys of the city to the Catholic Monarch on January 2nd, 1492. Legend has it that the Arab king could not help bursting into tears when for the last time he turned to look back at the city of Granada. his mother reproached him with a sentence that has become famous: "Weep like a woman since you couldn't defend yourself like a man".

La Alhambra is the most important civil building preserved of Muslim civil architecture. All the refinement, wealth and delicacy of Islamic art and architecture reached its last climax in the West in this unique building which is a fortress, residence and royal city all in one and finds an extension in the gardens of El Generalife.

Alhambra means "red castle", a name derived from the colour of its walls made from the clay that was extracted from the very hill on which it stands. This military enclosure, flanked by massive towers, is entered by five well-protected gates. Separate from the rest of the enclosure, the "Alcazaba" or Moorish fortress had its own entrance, which is closed today because of later fortifications.

In 1238, Muhammad I, Ibn al-Ahmar, the Nasrid King of Granada, repaired "La Acequia Real" (an irrigation channel) which brought water the River Darro to the top of the Red Hill and began the construction of today's Alcazaba. Muhammad II (1273-1302), his son, continued the works, but the most important driving forces behind this Arab palace-cum-fortress were Yusuf I (1333-1354) and Muhammad V (1354-1391).

After dethroning Boabdil, the Catholic Monarchs refurbished the palace, but retained the Muslim style. In the times of Emperor Carlos V, part of the Arab palaces was destroyed making way for the palace bearing his name, which was built by Pedro Machuca.

"La Casa Real Vieja", ie, the Old Royal House, consists of a series of rooms called "Cuartos a Palacio", a peculiar name given to a number of rooms that make up La Alhambra and were built one after another as the need for them arose. There are four main patios or inner courts: the one at the entrance, Machuca, Comares and the one of Los Leones (ie, the Lions). Only the last two have survived intact to our days. Between the Machuca and Comares Patios lies El Mexuar, a large hall of justice, and El Patio del Cuarto Dorado (ie, of the Golden Room). The buildings surrounding each of the patios are accurately and symmetrically distributed, but each complex by itself is organised more freely.

The towers of the curtain wall have richly decorated rooms and some of them are small, sumptuous palaces. Outstanding are the Tower of Las Infantas, the Tower of La Cautiva (ie, the Captive One) and the Tower of Las Damas.

The decoration of La Alhambra is of great importance. Among the most significant decorative elements are the skirtings of glazed tiles, the walls, friezes and series of arches covered with "atauriques" (ie, plaster or stucco decorative plant motifs characteristic of Caliphal art) and the ceilings decorated with bows, stalactites or "mocarae" (ie, designs of several prisms on a concave base) which in combination give the halls of these palaces an appearance of dazzling sumptuousness.

El Generalife, the summer palace of the Nasrid kings of Granada, stands on top of the hill of El Sol (ie, the Sun), which is twin to the one of La Alhambra and also towers over the River Darro. unlike the great palace, its construction date is known with accuracy (1318) as is its master builder: Aben Walid Ismail.

Today, all that remains of El Generalife are two buildings, one at each end of El Patio de la Acequia through the centre of which a channel runs with pipes along both sides and a stone bowl at each end. There are countless little channels, fountains and water jets everywhere in the lovely gardens.

La Alhambra and the gardens of El Generalife, which were included in the World Heritage List in 1984, are masterpieces of Nasrid architecture and belong to the last period of Arab art in the Iberian Peninsula. They embody the strength of rich and sumptuous Muslim tradition based on lavish decoration, which is one of the most outstanding elements of these unique buildings. Though tiring for the legs with its steep, cobbled streets the Albayzín district is well worth a visit. Mosques converted into churches, Arab water cisterns still in use, Moorish palaces and tranquil villas hidden behind lush greenery give a sensation of harmony and suspended reality where the spirit can savour total peace of a few hours.

Source: World Heritage Sites in Spain

Panoramic view of the Alhambra

Where and how to get a ticket

Raul on 03.06.05 @ 03:37 PM CST [link] [1 Comment]


Saturday, February 19th

Lince Ibérico

notice: English translation of the unique Iberian Lynx cat is underneath the Spanish text

lynx (14k image)

Principales amenazas La declinación de la población del Lince Ibérico desde los años 60 ha sido causada sobre todo por la pérdida del habitat y el declive de su principal presa, el conejo europeo. El virus, mixomatosis, que fue introducido de Suramérica en los comienzos de los años 50 , tubo un impacto devastador en los conejos europeos, que no tenían ninguna inmunidad natural. En los años de la epidemia, los conejos desaparecieron virtualmente de muchas áreas. Los conejos europeos están en proceso de desarrollar resistencia genética a la mixomatosis, que no es una amenaza tan importante, pero una nueva enfermedad, la neumonía hemorragico-vírica, golpeó a la población española en 1988, causando una alta mortalidad inicial de los conejos adultos. Al mismo tiempo, la transformación del habitat en España y Portugal, donde el mosaico de pasto-matorral-arbolado preferido por los conejos fue substituido por campos del trigo y plantaciones industriales de bosque. Los conejos declinaron incluso en las reservas de caza, probablemente porque en reducida escala pastos y cultivos fueron abandonados en esta área, y los pastos preferidos por los conejos fueron invadidos por la maleza. (ICONA 1992).

Sin embargo, hay algunas áreas donde la calidad del habitat y la densidad del conejo parecen suficientes, con todo no se encuentra ningún Lince. Determinado en estas áreas, parece que los seres humanos son los responsables directos de un nivel apreciable de la mortalidad del Lince. Esto es cierto incluso para la población que vive en el área donde recibe la maxima protección, el complejo de Doñana. La mayoría de muertes registradas allí en un tiempo de 10 años, el ser humano ha sido relacionado, y solamente 8,3% de mortalidad ha sido relacionada inequívocamente a causas naturales (Ferreras. 1992). Rodríguez y Delibes (1990) han recopilado datos de 1.215 linces muertos en España en los últimos 30 años.

Los lazos y trampas para los conejos, han sido la principal causa de muerte para el Lince, aunque parece que esta práctica de caza para los conejos está disminuyendo. Se supone que las muertes por atropello eran comparativamente poco importantes (o raras) antes de 1978, pero aumentaron, cuando el estado emprendio un programa ambicioso de construcción de carreteras en los años 90 (ICONA 1992).

Las pequeñas subpoblaciones, aisladas de Lince Ibérico son teóricamente vulnerables a la deriva genética, donde probablemente los alelos de baja frecuencia desaparecen del banco genetico de la población. Beltrán y Delibes (1993) encontraron la primera evidencia de esto en Doñana, en donde la población del lince aproximadamente 40-50 se ha aislado desde principios de los años 60, antes tres modelos de pelage estaban presentes la población, pero ahora ninguno de los linces actuales exhiben el modelo de pelage fino-manchado más raro.

El gobierno español está en el proceso de desarrollar una estrategia nacional de conservación para el Lince Ibérico, con la meta de permitir al lince tener el mayor numero posible de ejemplares, para estabilizar la plblación. Las medidas serán aplicadas primero a los núcleos de población más grandes (el sierra del este Morena, las montañas de Toledo, los pasillos entre estas dos zonas, y ciertas partes de Extremadura). Las medidas incluyen la terminación de los estudios detallados de las condiciones de cada subpoblación del Lince (utilización del suelo, propiedad de terreno, condición del habitat, densidad del conejo); prohibición de la caza del conejo; llevar medidas activas para que aumenten las poblaciones de conejo ; y el establecimiento de un programa de cria en cautividad (ahora en curso) (Rodríguez y Delibes 1990, ICONA 1992).

Guest on 02.19.05 @ 07:11 PM CST [more..] [No Comments]


Wednesday, February 2nd

Walking the GR7 is exploring the real Spain.

notice: Nederlandse versie is onderaan de engelse tekst

I wanted to get away, just a week in May. From a friend I heard about the GR7, a walking route through Spain and part of the E4, a public footpath from Gibraltar to Greece. I chose the track through The Alpujarras, a valley on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia in Spain. I threw two pairs of shorts, two T-shirts, some underwear, a sweater and a raincoat, my diary and a book in my backpack. In the last minute I also decided to take a tent and sleeping bag. I managed to keep the weight under 13 kilos and with a hat on the head I jumped on the plane to Granada. I took a bus to Guadix where I assumed to be able to take another bus over the pass the Puerto de la Ragua. But there was no connection, except for a taxi the next day. It seemed I was stuck there for the night, but fortunately I met a guy in a bar who spoke a little English. He was going over the pass and could give me a lift to Laroles, where I was supposed to start the track. He dropped me off at the camping site just above the village.

The next morning I took my time and wandered through the awakening charming village. The bar just opened and I decided on a coffee first. The start of the track was easily found but I went slowly, the 13 kilos were pinching in my shoulders, the sun was climbing rapidly and I was in bad shape. I had to shut out all thoughts and feelings during this first steep climb, but the singing nightingales, the gobbling sound of the bee-eaters, the hoopoe and the golden oriole flying in front of me helped me to go on.
The first village I came passed was Júbar, with a little church dating from a time when Arabs inhabited the Alpujarras.

On my way down to the next village Mairena I met a Dutch lady, who walked with her three dogs, she happened to have a B&B. And while I was feeling rather exhausted I decided to accept her advise to start slowly, 'poco a poco' as the Spaniards say. In Viña y Rosales I had a wonderful treat with a healthy meal and a beautiful sleep. The next morning the woman accompanied me with her dogs on the walk, an hour and a half, to Néchite. She explained a lot about passed times, how the corn and grain had been grown high in the mountains, about the history of the Moors and the way they invented the irrigation system by the use of water canals. We constantly passed or walked along these. She explained a lot about the landscape and the flowers we saw. We parted as old friends and she went back with her niños, as she called them.

I went on solo, but not lonely. She had make me see more. I could appreciate the eroded landscape with the thousands of colours better. I recognised the almond trees, olives and figs now. And she showed me the different varieties of herbs, lavender and thyme in which I had a lovely rest. In the village of Válor I enjoyed an abundant local meal of mijas (a sort of couscous) with sardines and fried peppers. With the heavy local wine still in my legs I passed Cuesta Viña. An old Arab public bath where a mineral source with a high grade of iron gave me strength; it was like tasting blood. Without hardly feeling the weight on my back anymore I reached Yégen that day, the village where Gerald Brenan lived from about 1924 to 1934. In his book, South from Granada I read about the visit Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Lytton Strachey paid him there. It is hard to imagine how this English high society fitted in this poor agricultural village. But Virginia seemed to like it.

I did not feel like staying and went on, asking a farmer who was loading his mule with rye if I could camp on his land. He was delighted and felt proud. Later that evening he came to invite me to drink a glass of wine with his wife. I went and was astounded by their simple interior. A fireplace in a corner, a rough wooden table with four chairs, cemented floor, no luxury except for a big fridge and a huge TV with a snowing and screaming screen. A photograph of their son's wedding on the wall. We communicated with laughs, hands and feet. I spoke Spanish without knowing the language, and if I had known the language I would not have understand them any better. They spoke with a heavy accent arising from mumbling mouths. I saw their teeth shine and laugh at me in two glasses on top of the telly.
After eleven I left and could at last stretch my stiff bones on a soft rock. The next day I wanted to reach Mecina Bombarón. The amber and burnt sienna forms in the landscape, the meadows with clumps of red poppies, white chamomile and yellow daisies, the endless variety of greens, the accompaniment of running water and the constant twitter of birds made me walk as light as a feather whirling on the wind.

Mecina is Arabic for village and it is here that Aben Aboo was born and bred. He and his cousin Aben Humeya were the last Moorish warriors against the Christians in the 16th century. After Granada was handed over to the Christians in 1492 by Boabdil, the ultimate Moorish king.

I had a wonderful sleep in the Alquería de Morayama near Cádiar. This atmospheric and tasty decorated hotel is named after Morayma, the only and beloved wife of Boabdil. He stayed here several nights with his retinue after he was banned by the Christians from his kingdom Granada to the Alpujarras. Of course the place has changed over the last 500 years. It was completely rebuilt on the foundations of the ruins some ten years ago.

On my fourth day, the itinerary described the track in one go (about 18 kilometres) to Trevélez. I decided to see how far I would get, I still carried my tent and could sleep anywhere. Prepared with enough water and food I took off again. With some reluctance I started the climb of a steep wall. Although I did catch up with my condition, I felt my calves with every step.

The countryside changed a lot from silvery green olive groves or apple green almond trees into barren eroded red rocks. In the sky I was followed by amazing rounded off big ufo-like clouds. Brenan described them in his book. They develop by the collision of the nearby sea wind and the wind of the high mountains. They announce steady weather, so they say. Well, that's what it was, blazing hot and my water bottle needed a frequent refill. Fortunately, the many fountains you see everywhere provide the best drinking water and for free.

That day was a tough one, I lost track several times and had to put up my tent somewhere in the wild. It was next to an old ruin used by shepherds and although worn out I could not get enough of the star packed sky. The next day, after an early and cool start I reached Trevélez around noon. It is known as the highest village, with the cleanest air in Europe (1500 meter). And that is why it is famous for its jamon (ham). There are hams everywhere, it looks like the thighs and buttocks of every pig in Spain are brought here to dry. I celebrated my arrival with a glass of local wine served with a 'tapas' of jamon.

And I went on the next three days all the way to Lanjarón. I met some other walkers and sportive cyclists, but was astounded by the quietness of the track. Although this western part of the Alpujarra valley, nearer to Granada, is more touristically developed than the eastern part where I started , tourism is not at all dominating. It is advanced in a tasteful and charming way. The white villages of Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira are so characteristic and still breath the atmosphere of old Moorish days. The people are extremely nice and open. I enjoyed my days of solemnness immensely, although I could not ignore the blisters on my feet and the weal on my shoulders. But the meditation on the landscape, the scents of flowers, the taste of strong wine, the sounds of endless singing birds and clattering water and the touch of physical pain in my body were etched on my memory. And to me this is the real Spain.

More information about the GR7 you will find on internet: GR7
To walk the route alone is not dangerous, but I advise to take a mobile phone. There are possibilities to walk the route with a guide or in groups. Luggage can be transported for you. Camping in nature is prohibited, but a list of comfotable hotels or rural accommodation along the GR7 can be achieved via an e-mail to Viña y Rosales.

Maryet on 02.02.05 @ 10:25 PM CST [more..] [No Comments]


Saturday, January 1st

De krekel en de mier

Op het afgemaaide land staat een arme muzikant. Met een kletsnat pak, geen graan op zak, en zonder dak.

De Mier: Wie is daar? Wie klopt aan de deur als een bedelaar? Wie is daar? Wie klopt met groot misbaar?

De Krekel: Och, leen mij lieve buur een graantje uit je schuur; 'k heb een kletsnat pak, geen graan op zak, ben zonder dak.

De Mier: Och, wat spijt! Wat voerde je uit in den zomertijd? Och wat spijt! Vervlogen is die tijd. Och wat spijt! En heb je gespeeld in den zomertijd? Vriend, wat nood? Ga dansen nu voor je brood. Op het afgemaaide land gaat een arme muzikant. Met een kletsnat pak, geen graan op zak en zonder dak.

De Krekel: Ik trok met lichte strijkmuziek de zonnige velden door en speelde heel den zomertijd mijn vroolijke wijsjes voor. Nu is de herfst gekomen , heeft alle vreugd genomen. 'k heb een kletsnat pak, geen graan op zak, ben zonder dak.

Jean De La Fontaine, 1694

Guest on 01.01.05 @ 09:24 PM CST [more..] [1 Comment]


Thursday, December 23rd

Christmas dinner 2004

Nederlandse versie - zie onderaan de engelse tekst

Christmas dinner

Suppose we are booked up for Christmas, that is very well possible. In that case we shouldn't dissapoint our guests, something we never did so far. While enjoying our morning coffee on the terrace, under an azure blue November sky and the orange red coloured apricot tree, we fantasize over the upcoming christmas dinner.

To give you a foretaste:

The savoury dishes or tapas are beautifully arranged: with bacon wrapped dates, asparagus paté, pepper pancakes or stuffed and sliced calamar (squid).

The guests are sitting or walking around. A crackling fire in the hearth comfortably warming them. They have just toasted in honour of each others good health. With certain greediness they take from presented dishes. A local Rosé wine savours the flavourings of the foods. They hardly know each other but everybody has read the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The knowledge that Bush will be president of the United States for another four years is almost unbearable. Iraq, Islam, 9/11 and terrorism seem an inevitable subject. Someone utters timidly; 'the same problem they had to deal with here in Spain 500 years ago'.

We sit down for dinner, candles burn. Bread steams warm, soup bowls are being served. What will it be? A turtle- or oxtail soup, a fish soup? You can buy excellent soup cubes these days. For Christmas, only once a year, we don't stoop to consumptive abuse. Let alone for the rest of the year. Herbaceous soup we are serving; lean and appealing. In the last minute I add a handful chopped and roasted nuts. Together with a side dish of fried sage leaves, crisp and tasty.

Raúl goes around with some more wine. Refilling the glasses, one hand on his back, with a 2002 Gran Reserva. The next course won't be cold turkey, dead hare or Peking duck but mushroom mousse over couscous, belarded with a lukewarm salad of artichokes and grilled red peppers. They take small bites and nip their wine and talk about . food. We have been here before. So one eats, one talks. We live at hands reach.

The next course will be announced. Next to quality we also strive for quantity during Christmas. Plates will be changed for graceful decorated saucers with red radichio leaves, sweet yellow pepper and winter radish. On top of that a lasagna of potato - avocado - aubergine. And then, it may not be deficient: a game bird, the baby under the fowl, the quail. With legs tied together, they lay in their stew, on a bedding of leek. How sweet and refined.

All the guests seem to look satisfied, their cutlery laid down. The table resembles a battlefield; time for an intermisson, have a smoke! They throng outside into the cool South Spanish night. Stars will be admired; Orion, Pluto, the Bears. There are just too many of them in the clear night canopy. Tomorrow is yet another beautiful sunny day.

What about desert? What will it be? Kaki ice cream with clotted cream, vanilla figs with fudge or medlar in chocolate dip? Coffee with quince liquor for sure. The guests talk on. The conversations are getting more philosophical; about the future, the past? Which overtakes what? Will the world come to an end and is everything, indeed anything, for nought? The candles extinguish, the ashes glow. Tomorrow brings another day and next year's Christmas will come nigh. Once again with cheerful guests around our dinner table? Or is it that we may be sitting next to the gas stove, enjoying a fried egg. Preparing for an early night.

Het kerstdiner

Stel we zijn volgeboekt met kerstmis, dat kan natuurlijk heel goed. Dan dienen we de gasten niet teleur te stellen. Iets wat we overigens nog nooit deden, maar toch. Sinterklaas is reeds uitgevaren naar het hoge noorden en wij zitten in azuurblauw novemberlicht, met de blik op oranje rood verkleurde struiken over het kerstdiner te fantaseren.

Vast een voorproefje:

Het Hors-d'Oeu'vre of liever de tapas liggen uitbundig op schalen gerangschikt: baconed dates (gespekte dadels), asperge paté, paprika pannekoek (pepper pancake) en gevulde inktvis in plakken (stuffed and sliced calamar).

We zitten, staan en lopen nog, het middelpunt is het knapperend haardvuur. De gasten hieven zojuist opnieuw het glas. Men neemt gretig van de schalen, de lokale Rosé bindt de smaken. Men kent elkaar niet, maar iedereen heeft de Da Vinci Code van Dan Brown gelezen. Dat Bush opnieuw de Amerikanen en de rest van de wereld vier jaar in zijn ban zal houden is onverteerbaar. De namen Pim Fortuyn en Theo van Gogh vallen in één zin, tesamen met de islam en 9/11. Iemand zegt wat timide, dat probleem hadden ze hier, in Spanje, 500 jaar geleden ook. Nederland is in verwarring roept een ander, de tolerantie voorbij zegt een derde.

We gaan aan tafel, kaarsen branden. Brood dampt warm, soepkommen worden gevuld. Het kan van alles zijn, een schildpad- of ossetaartsoepje, een vissoep. Je hebt tegenwoordig uitstekende pakjes. Maar voor het kerstdiner, slechts eenmaal per jaar verlagen we ons niet tot consumptief misbruik. De rest van het jaar trouwens ook nauwelijks. Kruidensoep wordt opgediend, mager en smakelijk. Op het laatst gaat er een handje gehakte en geroosterde noten overheen. Gefrituurde salieblaadjes in een deegjasje worden knapperig afgehapt.

Raúl gaat rond met de wijn. Met een hand op de rug worden de glazen opnieuw gevuld met een gran reserva uit 2002. De volgende gang zal geen cold turkey, dead hare of peking duck zijn, maar paddestoelen mousse over cous-cous, gelardeerd met een lauwwarme salade van artichocken en gegrilde paprika. Men neemt kleine hapjes, men nipt aan het glas en men spreekt over ... eten. Dat maken we vaker mee. Zo men tot zich neme zo men spreke. We leven binnen handbereik.

De volgende gang wordt aangekondigd want behalve kwaliteit wordt met kerstmis ook kwantiteit nagestreefd. De borden worden vervangen door sierlijk gedecoreerde schotels met rode radichio slablaadjes, gele paprika en witte ramenas. Daarop aardappel - avocado - aubergine lasagna. En dan, het mag niet ontbreken, een stukje wild; de baby onder het gevogelte, het kwarteltje. Met de pootjes bijeen gebonden liggen ze daar gestoofd en gevuld op een bedje van prei. Hoe zoet en hoe verfijnd.

Men kijkt voldaan, bestek ligt neergevleid. De tafel een slagveld. Een rookpauze wordt ingelast. Men dromt naar buiten, de zwoele Zuidspaanse nacht in. De sterren worden bewonderd, Orion, Pluto, de beren, het kan niet op, morgen opnieuw mooi weer.

Het dessert? wat zou het allemaal kunnen wezen? Kaki-ijs met slagroom, vanille vijgen met fudge, of rottemispel met chocoladesaus? Koffie met kweeperenlikeur, dát in elk geval. Men praat verder; filosofischer worden de gesprekken. De toekomst, de geschiedenis? Wie haalt wie in? Zal de wereld eindigen en is niets voor niets geweest? De kaarsen doven, het haardvuur gloeit. Morgen een nieuwe dag en volgend jaar is het wéér kerst. Opnieuw met gasten aan tafel. Of zitten we wederom, elk met een gebakken ei naast de gaskachel, klaar om vroeg naar bed te gaan.

Maryet on 12.23.04 @ 04:54 PM CST [link] [No Comments]


Wednesday, December 22nd

Newsletter VIÑA Y ROSALES Sept. 2004

Nederlandse versie - zie onderaan de engelse tekst

What are we eating tonight

In many a household this is the problem of the day. Also in casa Viña y Rosales but here we have so many delicious ingrediënts from the garden that it is never a serious issue. Hands-full of basil enter the soup, the pesto and the yoghurt ice cream. We have plenty vigorous growing basil plants from last year seeds.

Raw beetroot salad with grated crabapples. Or fennelroot with a yoghurt dressing of homemade yoghurt. We also eat a lot of crisp salad with Rucola, sorrel and the flowers of Nasturtium. Unpealed blue potatoes are served with it. Okra, or ladies fingers, courgettes and pumpkin preserve in daily nutritions. And for desert? Some last strawberries, also from the garden, mulberry icecream or some sweet and ripe melon.


The pear trees are full this year and before the fruit get smashed onto the ground, we turn them into juice. Tomatoes are late this year but are promising; hundreds of green round balls hang among the leaves. Once they turn red we slice them into salads, gazpacho, tomato sauce and chutney. What we do not eat now, we'll dry for our winter nutrition. We try not to eat summer vegetables in winter.


We don't serve mayonaise made with raw eggs. Mayonaisemade of milk and sunflower oil is an equal alternative. Pour milk (1 part) and oil (2 parts), some drops of lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to your taste, in a bowl and whip with a handblender. It will set almost immediately to a white cream. Eventually season with chives, parsil or a bit of mustard and serve as your top dip with barbecue steak, homemade fried potatoes, some fresh bread or a salad.


AWe sometimes say to each other: What a pity we do not have even more guests to enjoy the garden, the nature and plentyful birds in the big blue sky. With all this wonderful sunshine to be wished for in man???^?y northern countries. Almost daily the mercury touches the bottom of the 40 degrees Celsius or 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Last year we experienced some extreme hot weeks in July, this year the sun was "beating" us in August. To find relief in a cool house is a most wondeful experience.


The heat is like a huge octopus spreading its tentacles around us, except before 11.00 am. and after 6.00 pm. Leaving the house in between these hours is as if one opens the door of an oven wherein a leg of lamb is roasted for hours. Warm air hits the face, only the smell is lacking ;).

Step into a strip of shadow is the moment to recover ones breath. The experience of coolness under an almond tree is nothing in comparison to the quality of shade of an old olive tree; its boon of obscure coolness is like if one drinks a glass of cold water when having a dry throat. Walking through the streets around noon is like watching a third rate movie, over exposed and without any figurants. Only an old dog sleeps in the shade of a stone wall.


Next to our daily tasks in and around house and garden we also attend toland just outside the village. Now, with a newly built water basin and proper shed we will extend our activities of growing biological vegetables. Figs are ripening, almonds are to be harvested at the end of the month. Enthusiastic hands are at all times welcome to help out with weeding and harvesting.

WORKSHOPS: Creative Cooking and Writing!

There are plans on having some creative weeks next year in in Viña y Rosales.

One week will be about creative cooking with ingrediënts like flowers, fruits and all sorts of leaves from the garden.

The other is on creative writing; a whole week Along writing short proze, stories or poetry inspired on nature or your inner self, under guidance of a published writer.

Let us know via the Viña y Rosales e-mail address if you are interested either for yourself, or a friend.


NIEUWSBRIEF casa Viña y Rosales - september 2004

Wat eten we vanavond weer ?

Is in menig gezin een veel gehoorde uitroep. Ook in casa Viña y Rosales, maar hier hebben we zoveel heerlijke ingrediënten uit de tuin dat het nooit echt een probleem is. Handenvol basilicum gaan in de soep, de pesto en het yoghurtijs. We hebben een aantal rijen fors groeiende planten uit eigen zaad.

Rauwe bietensla met geraspte val-appeltjes. Of in plaats van de bietjes, knolvenkel met een yoghurt dressing van zelfgemaakte yoghurt. Ook eten we veel knapperige sla met Rucola, zuring en bloemen van de Oost-Indische Kers erdoor. Blauwe aardappelen, in de schil gekookt, worden erbij geserveerd. De okra, courgettes en pompoenen leveren een dagelijkse voedingsbron. En toe? Wat laatste aardbeien, ook uit de eigen tuin natuurlijk of moerbeienijs dan wel een rijp meloentje.


Inmiddels zijn er ook volop peren, waar we voornamelijk sap van maken. En de tomaten zijn in aantocht; honderden ronde groene balletjes hangen in de struiken. Binnenkort gaan ze weer in de sla, de gazpacho, de saus en de chutney. Wat niet opgaat wordt gedroogd als wintervoorraad. Want in de winter proberen we geen zomergroenten te eten.


Een snelle dipsaus à la mayonaise maar dan zonder eieren is lekker bij de bbq, zelf gesneden patat friet of op een stuk warm stokbrood en bij de salade. 2 delen zonnebloemolie, 1 deel volle melk, zout, peper, citroensap, teentje knoflook uit de pers. Doe alles samen in een diepe beker, 2 seconden de staafmixer erin en je hebAt de blankste mayonaise zonder salmonella gevaar, want rauwe eieren zijn tegenwoordig uit den boze. Proef en zie het zelf ! Blijft het mengsel te dun voeg dan wat melk toe. Voeg eventueel fijngesnipperde bieslook, peterselie of mosterd toe.

We zeggen wel eens tegen elkaar: Jammer dat we niet nog veel vaker gasten hebben die mee genieten van de tuin, de natuur, de vogels en de blauwe lucht waarin een zon staat die in zoveel noordelijke landen soms fel begeerd wordt. Dagelijks raakt het kwik nu de onderkant van de 40 graden, vorig jaar ervoeren we een
paar extreem hete weken in juli. Dit jaar is het nu in augustus weer raak, het is dan heerlijk om bij te komen in ons koele huis.


Als een grote octopus slaat de hitte zijn tentakels om ons heen. We kunnen hem alleen even 's morgens voor elven en 's avonds na zessen ontvluchten. In de uren daartussen is het verlaten van 't huis alsof je de deur van een oven opent waar al uren een lamsgebraad in staat te stoven. De warme lucht slaat in het gezicht, alleen de geuren ontbreken ;).

Het betreden van een streep schaduw is even op adem komen. Koelte ervaren onder het transparant gebladerte van een amandelboompje is niets vergeleken bij de intensiteit van schaduw onder een oude olijfboom. De weldaad van zijn obscure koelte is als het drinken van een glas koud water met een droge keel. Rond het middaguur door de straten van het dorp lopen is als het kijken in een derderangs film, overbelicht en zonder figuranten. Slechts een oude hond ligt in een streep opkomende schaduw langs een gevel.


Naast de dagelijkse klussen in en om huis en tuin, hebben we ook de zorg voor een stuk land even buiten het dorp. Nu, met een nieuw gebouwd waterbassin en een stenen schuur, zullen onze biologische landbouw activiteiten nog meer gaan toenemen. In augustus vijgen, in september zijn er amandelen en in januari olijven te oogsten. Enthousiaste handen zijn welkom om te komen helpen met wieden of oogsten.

WORKSHOPS: Creatief koken en schrijven:

Het plan leeft om volgend jaar enkele cursusweken in Viña y Rosales te gaan opzetten.

Een week creatief koken met ingrediënten zoals bloemen, vruchte???^?n en blad uit de tuin.

Of heb je zin in een week creatief schrijven; korte schetsen, verhalen en poëzie geïnspireerd op het landschap, de natuur of het eigen innerlijk onder leiding van een gepubliceerd schrijver.

Laat ons weten of je interesse hebt voor jezelf of als je iemand anders weet? Stuur ons een antwoord via het Viña y Rosales e-mail adres.

Maryet on 12.22.04 @ 09:17 PM CST [link] [No Comments]


Tuesday, December 21st

1st Newsletter July 2004

Nederlandse versie - zie onderaan de engelse tekst

We are launching a newsletter !

Every three months we like to keep you informed about events taking place in and around Viña y Rosales.

Having been our guest you will recognise the references on gardening, the dogs or new tips on cooking. Information on nature and the valley around us also have our attention. Juicy stories about the villagers told at our dinnertable will be continuated.

If you have not been our guest yet, this newsletter may be an inspiration to come and visit us in Viña y Rosales and enjoy the many wonderful walks here in the valley of the Alpujarras.

May 2004

Wine and Roses would be the name of our house in English, an adequate name in this month because the roses are at its peak. We once compared them with the size of tea saucers. Also this year we are surprised by their size. The former owner planted wild onions between the roses to keep them free from lice. It is indeed a good and creative idea! The Vine also makes its promise. New grapes are seen vividly between the young leaves, to be squashed into wine in October. It will make us pleasantly tipsy again. We owe you the recipe.

Except for two swallow nests in the molino and the old stable there also is a pigeon nest.This nest is behind a small window in the thick wall of the studio in the attic. Two rather ugly looking little yellow 'downies' with ridiculous adult-like bills, playing around between dry blades of grass and feathers. Unlike the swallows, the pigeons nests are very untidy. We are not extremely happy with these coarse "bastards" when they fly over their wings crackle like new shoes or their 'cosy' coos at the break of dawn. But, they are clever ! Raúl found sound bits of the harrier hawk's scary screams on the internet. These hawks are the natural enemies of pigeons. He copied about an hour of their shrieking sounds on a CD-ROM and played it some days outside on a ghetto blaster. It seemed to work, whenever Raúl enters the garden, with or without the ghetto blaster, they fly away. On the other hand the starlings with their insolent laughs, messy breast feathers and unsurpassed talents to imitate, seems to have replaced the pigeons!

When we take a stroll at night with the dogs the long eared owl and the bats tear along.The nightingales in the shrubs near the river are singing their courtship singsongs. It is fascinating to hear them sing through the with stars spangled night sky. Likewise with the call of the golden oriole during daytime and the gobbling sound of the bee eaters during twilight.

Thinking about a possible 'last minute' booking, than look at the weather forcast for the coming 10 days in the province of Granada in Andalusia.

This springtime the public laundry washing places and fountains in the villages of the Alpujarras are being restored. They are important picturesque attractions dating from the Arab period in Andalusia, now 500 years ago. Next to our house is a fountain which, rated by local values, has the best drinking water in the whole village of Mairena. There also is a laundry washing place which is still frequented. A steady water flow pours from a copper pipe into a gutter of about four metres long and twenty centimetres wide. Both sides of the gutter has two slanting sides of natural stone being used as a washing board. It is not hard to imagine how, in former days, women were standing next to each other bending over scrubbing their linen.

I still regularly see Elodia, Rosario or Pepa with home-made soap made of olive oil, sand, soda and water; washing the trousers of their men. Just this morning I saw how skillfully Rosario, being 75 years old, flung the underpants of Paco, the crotch under the jet, in the gutter! Leaving it there to soak while she started scrubbing one of her aprons. Without looking at me, instead showing her rounded back, she told me about the past. How there was no tap water in the houses until 20 years ago and how people used to wash themselves in these laundry places. Does she use a washing machine? Yes indeed, she has one but hardly ever uses it!

1e Nieuwsbrief - juli 2004

We gaan een nieuwsbrief uitbrengen !

Ieder kwartaal kun je over de laatste bijzonderheden rond huis en tuin van Viña y Rosales lezen.

Was je al eens bij ons te gast dan herken je de verhalen over de tuin, de honden, een nieuwe kook- of tuintip.

Ook de natuur en ontwikkelingen in de vallei krijgen aandacht. De smeuiige dorpsverhalen, hier aan de eettafel verteld, krijgen een vervolg.

Was je nog nooit onze gast dan is misschien deze brief een aansporing om eens te komen. Om te wandelen te genieten in Las Alpujarras in Spanje en verwend te worden in Viña y Rosales.

Mei 2004

Wijn en Rozen heet ons huis in het Nederlands, een toepasselijke naam in mei want de rozen zijn nu op hun top. In onze afscheidsbrief, vier jaar geleden omschreven we hun maat 'als theeschotels zo groot'. En ook dit jaar zijn we weer verbaasd dat we toen niet logen. Dankzij de talloze wilde uien die her en der tussen de rozen oprijzen zijn ze luisvrij, een goed en decoratief idee. Ook de wijn heeft weer veel goeds in petto. Vief hangen de nieuwe druiventrossen al tussen het frisse blad om tot eigen huiswijn geplet te worden in oktober. We zullen er weer prettig tipsy van worden. Het recept houden jullie te goed.

Behalve twee zwaluwnesten in de molino en de stal hebben we nu ook een duivennest. Achter het kleine raampje in de dikke muur van het atelier op zolder rollebollen twee lelijke gelige donsjes met belachelijk volwassen snavels, tussen wat droge grassprieten en veertjes. In tegenstelling tot de zwaluwen bouwen die duiven slordige nesten. Dol zijn we niet op die grove 'lui' met vleugels die kraken als nieuwe schoenen en hun 'gezellig' gekoer tegen het ochtendgloren. Maar slim zijn ze wel. Raúl heeft het geschreeuw van de havik van het internet opgenomen en wel dertig maal gecopieërd op een CD-ROM. De ghettoblaster in de tuin bleek prima te functioneren als natuurlijke vijand; ze vertrokken meteen naar het zadeldak van de kerk. Daarna vlogen ze zelfs weg als Raúl gewoon de tuin inliep. De spreeuwen daarentegen met hun brutale gelach, rommelige borstkas en onovertroffen imitatie talent, lijken de duiven nu van de troon gestoten te hebben.

Als we 's avonds nog even met de honden lopen vliegen de ransuilen en vleermuizen voor ons uit. De nachtegalen in de bosjes bij de rivier geven hun balts-gezang ten beste. Het is een fascinerend gehoor in de door sterren verlichtte donkere nacht. Evenals het roepen van de wielewaal overdag en het geklok van bijeneters vlak boven het hoofd tegen de avond.

Denk je over een 'last minute' boeking, bekijk dan de weersverwachting voor de komende 10 dagen in de provincie Granada.

Dit voorjaar werden de wasplaatsen en fonteinen in de dorpen van de vallei, Las Alpujarras vernieuwd. Het zijn belangrijke pittoreske attracties daterend uit een tijd dat de Arabieren hier nog de scepter zwaaiden, 500 jaar geleden. Naast ons huis is een fontein met, naar men zegt het beste water in het dorp. En ook een wasplaats die nog steeds frequent bezocht wordt. Het water stroomt in een dikke straal uit een koperen pijp in een vier meter lange goot. Aan beide kanten van de goot zijn twee schuine natuursteen wanden, die gebruikt worden als wasbord. Het is niet moeilijk voor te stellen hoe de vrouwen vroeger naast elkaar stonden te boenen op hun goed.

Nu zie ik nog regelmatig Elodia, Rosario of Pepa met zelfgemaakte brokken zeep van olijfolie, zand, soda en water de werkbroeken van hun mannen wassen. Vanmorgen nog zag ik hoe bedreven Rosario, ze is 75 jaar, de onderbroek van Paco in de goot slingerde! Het kruis onder de harde waterstraal kon even weken, terwijl zij begon te boenen op een van haar schorten. Zonder van haar werk op te kijken, met gebolde rug, vertelde ze me over vroeger. Hoe er tot 20 jaar geleden nog geen leidingwater in de huizen was en dat de mensen zich in de wasplaats kwamen wassen. Wasmachine? ja die had ze wel, maar gebruikte ze eigenlijk nooit!

Raul on 12.21.04 @ 04:50 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Entries in 2004

Viña y Rosales
Cookery Recipes
Alpujarras information

Nomenclature of plants

February 2006