Sunday, November 23, 2014

Talabarte Trio

Part 2 here.

Yippee - I finally found a band to look for!  I always wondered why live music wasn´t more available in Galician bars like in Scotland or Ireland or Chicago, for that matter, but I think these guys out of Santiago may be ones to look for.

Talabarte is a trio formed by Pedro Pascual, Quim Farinha, and Kin García.  They play a delightful acoustic mixture of Galician traditional, celtic, gypsy, folk and jazz.

From a review of their eponymous CD on Rootsworld:

The thing that struck me first about this trio from Galicia in northwest Spain is how big they sound. The CD cover shows three musicians, and I kept looking in the credits to see who else joined them. But there is no one else. Accordion, fiddle, and double bass are all they need to put forth a full sound.

Most of these songs are traditional, but there are a handful of originals in the mix as well. Maybe someone steeped in Galician traditional music could tell these apart, but to my ears the styles of the traditional and original tunes match perfectly. And I definitely sense a Talabartan quality in the way the trio arranges melodies, counter-melodies, harmony lines, and accompaniment, splitting these over the three instrumental voices, making the variations interesting in song after song.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

House update

Sorry for the lapse in posting.  There are times when there doesn´t seem to be anything interesting to write.

We just got back from the house.  We have the electrical service connected - woot!  Got to see some family and hang wth V´s brother and did some little jobs around the house.

After the warmest October on record, it rained the entire week, so any plans for working on the garden were abandoned.  The cardboard intended to suppress the nettles was a complete failure.  I´ll have to find a source of mulch to go over it if there´s any lasagna bed building to be done.

Instead, V finished painting the remaining walls.  I sealed a few more windows, and swept and mopped the floors again.  I´m afraid we´re going to have to come up with a better cleanser than vinagre and water and then use some kind of finish.  They turn a lovely honey color when mopped, but a quick swipe with a damp cloth shows a coating of dust that doesn´t come up easily.

We had two m2 of ¨dry¨ oak firewood delivered and stacked it the first night, then lived with the wood stove and cooker for a week.  It will be a while before we´re capable of starting a smokeless, fast fire.  But, the radiators warmed and the hot water flowed.  And I managed to cook a couple of guisos/stews.  The firebox of the cooker is so big, it´s a challenge getting, and then keeping, up a temperature over 120 C (250F).  There will be a steep learning curve if I ever have to bake something.  There also seemed to be a ton of ashes.  Don´t know what we´re going to do with them all.

Now, all the clothing we brought back smells like chorizo.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Apple Cider

I was pleased to try this organic cider when we were at the house.  In the past, most of the cider apple harvest in Galicia went straight to sidrerías in Asturias or Pais Vasco, but recently, the prices weren´t enough to cover the transportation costs.  So someone had the bright idea of reviving the cider industry in Galicia. We tried the organic, sweet ¨Natural¨, and thought it was delicious.  Light, refreshing, slightly sweet and notably apple-y.  Just the thing for a warm summer evening.

Enter Maeloc.  A subsidiery of the folks that bring us Estrella Galicia beer (Hijos de Rivera), they make both sweet and dry apple ciders, along with perry (!) blackberry and strawberry.  Maeloc is one of the businesses featured in the initiative Mercado de la Cosecha, sponsored by Hijos de Rivera, R and Gadis, dedicated to fostering sustainable rural development projects in Galicia.

ETA - I just found a blog dedicated to Galician cider (in gallego)  Sidra Gallega

Can´t wait to try making some on my own.  We´ll need to try to revive the old, very tired and neglected apples on the property and plant some more.  The neighbors also had apples that had seen better days.

I´m intrigued by the whizbang design for a press. No sense not using a garbage disposal and a hydraulic automotive jack when they´re so widely available.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Ode to Autumn

I Go Among  Trees

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it.  As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

-Wendell Berry (b. 1934)

More marvelous photography by Nelleke Pieters.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Galiña Piñeira


More chickens to look for.  They are a heritage breed, predating the Romans, called Galiñas Piñeiras and were in danger of extinction but are now recovering numbers.

(Re-)Discovered by a vet acting as a poultry judge, Jesús García Rodríguez, who was tired of awarding prizes to foreign breeds.  He found a local variety, never entered in contests, and after interviewing and visiting the older residents of the area in central La Coruña, he got together a small number of representative examples. In 2004, the ACIVEGA foundation took on the project with the support of the provincial government and began selection, typing, and reproduction of the breed. 

Smaller than the Galiña de Mos, they are supposed to be much better layers - 180 eggs of 50 to 60 grams per year v.s. the 70 or 80 of other heritage breeds.  Cocks weigh in at 3 to 3.5 kilos and hens from 2 to 2.5 kilos.  The meat is dark, lean, concentrated in the thighs and legs and similar to that of game birds.

They come in 3 color variations, aperdizado, silvestre, and white.

Reputed to be thrifty keepers and excellent foragers, and they fly.

The Fiesta de Galo Piñeiro is celebrated each year between July 31 and August 1 in O Pino, where the birds were first rediscovered, in the province of La Coruña.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pierre de Ronsard

There is a rose that is ubiquitous in images of european style country gardens, especially French country.  Pierre de Ronsard, or Eden rose, is achingly romantic, full petalled, blush pink rose, demurely nodding while spilling voluptuously over arching, lush arbors in images all over the internet.

Introduced by Meilland in 1987, Helpmefind describes the rose as:
Climber, Large-Flowered Climber.  
Cream, carmine-pink edges.  Moderate fragrance.  55 to 60 petals.  Average diameter 3".  Large, very full (41+ petals), borne mostly solitary, cupped, globular bloom form.  Prolific, continuous (perpetual) bloom throughout the season.  
Tall, climbing.  Medium, semi-glossy, dark green foliage.
Height of 39" to 12' (100 to 365 cm).  
USDA zone 5b through 9b.  Can be used for cut flower, garden, landscape or pillar.  Vigorous.  heat tolerant.  rain tolerant.  Disease susceptibility: very disease resistant.  

But I didn´t really know who Pierre de Ronsard actually was until I read a piece on the always interesting art blog The Blue Lantern, Ronsard: A Romance Of The Rose.  It includes this lovely translation of his 16th century poem Derniers vers pour Cassandre (Last Poem for Cassandra).

"Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Qui ce matin avoit desclose
Sa robe de pourpre au Soleil,
A point perdu ceste vesprée
Les plis de sa robe pourprée,
Et son teint au vostre pareil.

Las ! voyez comme en peu d'espace,
Mignonne, elle a dessus la place
Las ! las ses beautez laissé cheoir !
Ô vrayment marastre Nature,
Puis qu'une telle fleur ne dure
Que du matin jusques au soir !

Donc, si vous me croyez, mignonne,
Tandis que vostre âge fleuronne
En sa plus verte nouveauté,
Cueillez, cueillez vostre jeunesse :
Comme à ceste fleur la vieillesse
Fera ternir vostre beauté." - A Cassandre by Pierre de Ronsar, 1545

"Mignonne, let us go see if the rose
that this morning did disclose
her purple robe to the Sun,
lost just before the day was dead
Her color as bright as yours?
Ah, See how quickly,
Mignonne, she loses them (her petals)
Ah, how her beauties drift down!
Ôh, truly monstrous Nature,
that such a flower only lasts
from morning just to night!
Therefore, if you believe me, Mignonne
While your youthful bloom
Is in its green freshness
pick, pick the flowers of your youth:
Before, like a flower, old age
will tarnish your  beauty." - translation mine, J.A.L.

How beautiful is that?

According to Wikipedia:
In general, Ronsard is best in his amatory verse (the long series of sonnets and odes to Cassandre, Pikles, Marie, Genévre, Héléne—Héléne de Surgeres, a later and mainly "literary" love—etc.), and in his descriptions of the country (the famous "Ode à Cassandre[1]," the "Fontaine Bellerie," the "Forêt de Gastine," and so forth), which are graceful and fresh. He used the graceful diminutives which his school set in fashion. He knew well too how to manage the gorgeous adjectives ("marbrine," "cinabrine," "ivoirine" and the like) which were another fancy of the Pléiade. In short, Ronsard shows eminently the two great attractions of French 16th-century poetry as compared with that of the two following ages - magnificence of language and imagery and graceful variety of metre.

I´ll have to look for translations, since I speak no French.  But whomever named the rose after the Poet certainly seems to have captured that fresh, graceful romanticism.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ribbon Drive

Thinking about what to do with the driveway entrance and patio area.  I´m really happy with the entrance as is - two tracks with greenery in the middle, called a ¨ribbon drive¨.

This example is perhaps a little OCD - couldn´t be trimming and edging all the time.

From an article on Houzz - ¨Nowadays the design is making a comeback due to its environmental benefits and nostalgic appeal. Environmentalists are drawn to the design for several reasons: It requires less impervious material, features additional greenery and means far less water runoff.¨

It doesn´t have to be grass and gravel.  There are lots of examples with cement, brick, and cobbles.

There are also new materials which hold up to traffic, but are semipermeable.  Don´t really like the looks of it.

But a hidden substructure would be OK.

When we first bought the house we had some large scale (4¨ -5¨)gravel put down, knowing that there would be a lot of truck and vehicle activity.  And in the interim it has almost entirely disappeared.  Sunk?  We´re not in a position to be spending hundreds of euros on gravel every 3 years, so building up an appropriate foundation is important. I wonder if this might be the occasion for landscape cloth.  Eww.

I had thought about using something atypical like crushed shell.  You´d think Galicia would have it´s share of mussel, clam and oyster shell to dispose of.  But haven´t had much luck finding a supplier.  So I guess it´s back to gravel. Simple, elegant, old fashioned gravel.