Monday, December 10, 2012

Carols at the Spinet

As Auntie Mame sang, "We need a little Christmas, Right this very minute... Candles in the window, Carols at the spinet."

POINSETTIAS PLANTED IN PLAZA NUEVA.
I WONDER IF THEY WERE SHIPPED FROM SAN DIEGO, HOME OF THE POINSETTIA.

No candles in the window for us. We gave away our (electric) taper candles when we left San Francisco. They looked perfect in the windows of our Cape Cod–style home in Guilford, Connecticut, where it was a very common tradition. They looked a bit peculiar in most of our places after that. Here in Sevilla, when I look in windows (bakery windows, that is), I don't see candles but I do see lots of turron. Most English speakers know turron as nougat. It's thought to have originated here among Iberian Muslims during the Christian reconquest of Spain. It's popular year-round, but especially during Christmas when you'll see many varieties. Turron is typically made of honey, sugar, egg white, and almonds or other nuts. It's a great ice cream flavor.

TURRON. I THINK I'LL TRY ONE OF EACH (AT LEAST) THIS YEAR.

Getting back to the song. So, no candles. No spinet either. We sold our last piano before leaving Santa Barbara in 2007. Jerry has toyed with purchasing something here, but no action taken. I used to love to listen to him play. I'm a bit rusty, but I'm sure with some practice I could once again deliver a good basic "Chopsticks" or "Heart and Soul." With a bit of work, I could probably even remaster "Summer Time is Here Again." That's a bit more difficult because it requires rolling my entire fist over the keys.

SAN GERALDO WITH TERÉ AND MIGUEL."WE'RE FREEZING! JUST TAKE THE PICTURE!"
HARD TO BELIEVE THE TEMPERATURE WAS 10C/50F.

So, I've established the fact that there are no candles in our windows. There is also no spinet. But even if we had a spinet, Carols could still present a problem. My cousin Carol and our friends Carol (and even Carole) live several thousand miles away. We don't know any Spanish Carols... Oh wait, wrong kind of "Carols." On second thought, maybe there's still hope for the carols.

CAN YOU SPOT THE MAJOR AMERICAN FILM STAR IN THE PHOTO?
I HADN'T EVEN NOTICED HIM UNTIL I DOWNLOADED THE PHOTO FROM MY CAMERA.

No matter what, I definitely need a little Christmas. I've been having a bit of a challenge motivating myself to get out of bed in the morning. The decorations have been glowing all over town for a week, but most out-of-towners and working stiffs hadn't seen them. So, everyone and his brother were here Saturday evening (Día de la Inmaculada) for the official lighting outside City Hall. I have never seen the streets so crowded. In my complete ignorance, I had the brilliant idea that San Geraldo and I should go out for a walk at 6. The lighting was at 6:30.

PLAZA NUEVA. MORE CROWDED THAN NEW YEAR'S EVE.

Given where we live, there was no avoiding the mobs of people. Most were out to see the lights. Many were out to get lit at the nearby clubs. I've had many brilliantly ignorant ideas in my life, but this was a real winner (maybe that's why my father used to always call me "a real winner" as he shook his head in amazement... or, perhaps, frustration). Anyway, it was at least nice to see the lights before night had completely set in. Much better for photos. Poor San Geraldo decided to escape more quickly while I snapped away. I know many routes home (which San Geraldo has refused to learn), so he headed right up the busiest pedestrian street in town. He survived.




Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are minor here compared to El Día de Los Reyes (the Day of the Kings, or Epiphany), January 5 (eve) and 6. Santa Claus (Papá Noel) is traditionally not very common here. Delivery of gifts is left to the Three Kings. But, we're not waiting until then to start celebrating. We start with an early holiday dinner with friends tomorrow night in Triana. Since we did the same last year, San Geraldo would say it's an annual tradition.

I'VE TOLD THE BOYS IT'S TOO SOON TO BE WATCHING FOR THE THREE KINGS.
DO THEY LISTEN?

29 comments:

  1. the lights are beautiful. I have my tree up, actually had two up...but as it does often this time of yr depression set in and I took one down last night :( your pics have boosted my mood today, especially the cats, so cute...maybe i will try to get out and do some shopping today...

    Thanx Mr B :)

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    1. Monkey:
      Oh, what the holidays do to us. I hope the depression lifts completely and that you're already back to creating beauty. I want to see pictures! No Christmas trees for us this year. The cats would have way too much fun. Nothing appears to be off limits and everything seems to be here for their enjoyment.

      As someone in Texas might say, "Damn cats! Bless their hearts."

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  2. The photo of the cats at the door is absolutely perfect. I can even see that as a painting! I love nougat and seeing those huge slabs of the stuff in the window would make me swoon in pleasure. As to Christmas, all I've done so far is put up my sad little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I'll have to get on board pretty soon as it's only a couple weeks away!

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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I've only had very basic nougat in the States, so am excited to try these specialties. I had never even heard of nougat ice cream before. That's an artesan specialty here and I've fallen in love with it. I love Charlie Brown Christmas trees!

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  3. So... what's Mickey Mouse doing at the lighting? I love that photo of your kitties. Our daughter had to take her Christmas tree down last week because Frankenstein lived up to his name and became the "cat monster of Christmas".... was tearing it up... not just the edges but the whole thing. Your kitties are such gentlemen! I hope they get what they're wishing for.

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    1. Odd Essay:
      I wish I had had a chance to ask Mickey why he was there (although I'm sure he was promoting a toy store in the neighborhood).

      I mentioned above we're not putting up our trees this year. Dudo and Moose are sweet and adorable. And they're holy living terrors when it comes to anything in their reach. "Is that for me?!?" "Wait, is that mean?!?" "Ooh, what's that?!?" That door they're looking out? Dudo was caught pulling the weather stripping out (in one long piece) yesterday!

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  4. We always had torrone at Christmas. All the Italian markets sell it for the holidays. I like the limone flavor. Although the cheaper variety is made in the US, the imported torrone is best. Interesting how similar the cultures of Spain and Italy are.

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    1. Frank:
      The only reason I became familiar with torrone (turron) is because my sister and I both had good Italian-American (well mine was Italian-Italian) friends in New York. We got hooked on all their favorite specialties. I really can't wait to try all the different turrones here. Sugar shock anyone?

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  5. So the temperature does drop a bit.....enough to 'feel' like a northern Christmas maybe. Beautiful photo of the boulevarde packed with poinsettias! And look at that last photo! Mitch...Get Out Of Here!!! Looks like a painting, great job!

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    1. Jim:
      To people here, 50F does feel like a northern Christmas. And that's as close as I want to get.

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  6. Wow, those lights are just gorgeous. And so many people! I like seeing how they do Christmas in Spain.

    And nougat, yummy yum yum!

    But what's with Mickey Mouse!?

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    1. Knatolee:
      Mickey Mouse I'm sure was a marketing opportunity for a local kids' store. (Just between us, I don't think it really was the REAL Mickey Mouse.)

      Christmas here is very special. Much more to come. I bought a new hat for The Day of the Kings. The parade is a blast. They throw hard candies from the floats into the crowds. Handfuls of hard candy. I bought a new hat to protect my poor head, which was covered in bumps last year!

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  7. Auntie Mame also said, "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. Not true for you an San Geraldo who seem to be enjoying life to the max. A wonderful way to live.

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    1. Stephen:
      San Geraldo and I are definitely lucky to not be anywhere near starving to death. What an experience. We'll have to ease up on the restaurants one of these days, but it sure is fun right now.

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  8. Wonderful photos, fun times reading, love the kitties, all is good :)
    Judy

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  9. I still remember getting the record "Mame' one Christmas; I guess that says a lot.

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    1. Spo:
      I never bought any musical theater recordings... I didn't have to. My parents saw everything and then bought every cast recording. Bliss.

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  10. Wonderful photos indeed. San Geraldo and friends having the chivers, even with 10 degrees Centigrade is a good one, its still minus 35 degrees from summer.

    My home hasn't seen a Xmas tree in all the 32 years I've been living here. So I bought a fake one, lights included in the tree, and it's still in the box. While shopping for something else I found amazing lights which are dropped over the fern and that will be my Xmas fern/tree this and coming years.

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    1. Peter:
      We used to do real, fresh trees. Then we moved to California and found they were mostly brown and dry before leaving the tree lots. So we bought a fake one. Replaced it with a nicer fake one. And then a nicer fake one that was pre-strung with lights... and therefore had the wrong plug and power for Spain! Last year we bought three new small fake ones here. Thanks to our lovely little cats (the stinkers), we're not going to bother putting them up this year!

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  11. Oh, that final photo! Perfection!

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    1. Judith:
      I can't stop taking pictures of those cats!

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  12. Spinet and carols and Carols and nougat.

    Let's sing, Mitchell. :-) Let's get just THIS SIDE of good and drunk and sing.

    Hugs from Minneapolis,

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl:
      Meet me in Triana tonight at 9:15 and we'll get good and sloppy this-side-of-drunk. I'll teach you the Spanish Christmas song I learned last year. I can remember an entire line... and the tune... sort of. Hope you're staying warm and not having to dig yourself out!

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  13. Wonderful pictures. And I had no idea San Diego was the home of the poinsettia.

    I did a posting a while back about that song and found a great Youtube of Mitzi Gaynor singing it. It still makes me smile.

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    1. Harper's Keeper:
      I exaggerated a bit about San Diego. Poinsettias came from Mexico and Central America originally, but the major American growers, the Ecke family set up shop in San Diego in 1923 after figuring out a way to make the plants grow fuller. Apparently, they now serve 70% of the US market and 50% of the world market. Until the 1990s the Eckes had a monopoly on the market because they held the secret to growing the fuller (less natural) plants. Then a researcher figured it out and now they're grown more cheaply again in Latin America. Probably more than you wanted to know!

      Thanks for letting me know about your Mitzi Gaynor post!

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  14. I enjoy reading about the traditions of others.
    I've quite a bit from your blog over the time spent here. Thanks!

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    1. Stew:
      I've learned so much since our arrival here. Glad you're enjoying it, too.

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  15. Please, please, please may I have a copy of the beautiful picture of the boys looking out the windows? LOVE. xox

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