Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Gaudí

Wow. This guy seems way underrated. Of course his work is all over
Barcelona, but his "style" didn't seem to catch on too much. His stuff
seems like a mix of cubism, naturalism, and surrealism.

I do wonder if he had a more subtle paradigm-shifting effect on the
architectural world...like when I see so many new buildings that break
the linear rules. Hmm.

Intentional Graffiti?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Last Week in Nerja


Wow. What a day. Spent this morning at Gaudi's cathedral and this afternoon at a basilica in the sky.

Dan, Adam and I caught a short one-hour train from Barcelona to Montserrat, a mountain monastery. Wow.

We climbed...on tracks, cog-rails and a gondola. I skipped the gondola. I hate those things. Once above the monastery we hiked around and then back down, stopping in for some local cheese, cheesecake, candied almonds and fig loaf. Mmmmmmm.

Magic is not rare up here. Stone and building as one, breathtaking views...the Piernees to the northwest, the coast and Barcelona to the southeast. Magic abounds.

Both excursions were renewing to me. We have already started plotting a way to rent a pad in Barcelona next year for a few months.

Rear Entrance to La Sagrada Familia

Wow. Read up on Gaudí. I am amazed how he was able to transcend his
contemporary categories. This guy truly designed space with a wholly
different paradigm. His stuff is not merely improvements on past
stuff; it was REALLY different.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Holly's Pics

Our schedule has been so full there's been so little time to blog. Holly did just post some great photos here and here. She says she'll post more soon.

As for me, these weeks have been magical. It was a wonderful week with my family in Marbella and then a glorious week with friends in Mijas-Costa. We're now in Barcelona. We trained all day today. It was wonderful even if the Monkey only took a 30 minute nap. He'll go to bed early tonight. Dan, Bethany, and Adam join us here at our Barcelona apartment (just off La Rambla at Placa Catalunya) by plane and cab.

I'm excited for a few days here. The Costa del Sol was relaxing and enjoyable. Barcelona is a totally different flavor. Much more like Europe's San Francisco, as I remember it from last time. These should be some great days.

Travel does me well generally. Breaks habits, reminds me that the impossible is possible (ie. traveling with a 2 year old) and that humanity is the same and different, gives distance from "home life", etc. And this has been a great trip. Great food and wine, laughter, and wonderful sites and excursions.

After Barcelona, we head back to Paris for a couple weeks. Probably jaunt down to a wine region or two while were there if there's time.

Pax is doing well, traveling like a champ. Traveling with people who love him makes such a difference. Such a difference. A few meltdowns, but normal stuff really. It is friggin' hard to keep this kid occupied. Seriously.

I've had some great reading the last few days, A Failure of Nerve, a book Dan and Bethany lent me. I hope to write up something about it in the week's to follow. Great stuff. Mind-blowing, yet articulating stuff I've been thinking about as well. Helpful.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cortijo Los Aguilares

Dan posted photos here!

We had an amazing day yesterday. Craig, Lora, Adam, Dan, Bethany, Holly, Pax, and I traveled up into the mountains of southern Spain, heading for the pueblo blanco of Ronda. Beautiful time, yummy tapas, including the much sought-after mountain cured ham. Mmm.

I set up a tasting at a local winery near Ronda since I had read that this is an emerging wine region for making still wines (there are several sweet and a few sparkling wines close by as well). And making some serious still wines, not just plonk.

We arrived to the wineyard (that's what they call it here) in awe of the surroundings. We were greeted by the winemaker, Bibi. She was lovely, young, had traveled all across the world making wine and assisting in the vineyard. This was her 2nd year as winemaker for this winery.

Her stuff was great. Sophisticated, refined, elegant, but strong and interersting...these were elegant wines, but they were not quiet! Almost immediately we were in the cellar, wine thief in hand, drawing wine from the '08s...the the '07s. Ah-freaking-mazing. Just so yummy, we all agreed.

And here's the strange thing: One of their main varietals is Pinot Noir. Very unusual for this part of the world. Very unusual. And soooooooooo good.

She took us up to the tasting room and we bought some bottles and talked about winemaking and the region and where to catch a great sunset. She drew us a map and gave us a free bottle of rosé so that we could enjoy the magic of seeing the sunset form the base of the bridge in Ronda. It really was just an unreal day. Wow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mi Hermano y Yo

Holly took this and more great pics that she just posted here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Inside the Palace

Yesterday we drove 2+ hours to Granada to the Alhambra, a moorish palace/castle/walled-town. It's up in the mountains. Near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. Beautiful!

This turn-of-last-millenium Sulatan's palace was taken over by the Christians in the crusades and then added to. So there is the colliding of cultures, worlds, and architecture in this space. Beautiful and challenging to appreciate it all.

I'm in a hurry, so there's little time to reflect right now, but it was a thought-provoking visit and one of the most beautiful places we've visited on this trip.


Again in Granada.

If you know me, you know I love good coffee. And you might have heard
me tell the story of asking for a coffee shop and being advised to go
to Dunkin Donuts. Plain dumb. And now to have seen their coffee in
Target and now in Spain called COFFEE! It's all too much.

The Most Awesomest Graffiti Ever

In Granada

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On España

It's been great to be in Spain. While it was just plain lovely to be in Paris with Craig and Lora, it's been sunny and comfy here in Spain.

Paris is full of nice-looking folks dressed in black. Spain exudes color. And I just love that contrast. I now remember why we vowed to come back to Spain after our last trip here.

Let's see...what have we been up to since we got in Saturday night. Well, the trip to get here was crazy...

Woke up at 4.30am
Boarded the METRO with Craig and Lora at 5.15am
Transfered to the RER with Craig at 5.30am
Detrained and checked into our flight at 6.30am
Raced around to find food and bevarage around 7am
Flew out of Paris around 7.30am
Landed in Madrid at 9.15am
Took a cab from the airport to the Atocha train station and arrived by 10am
Second breakfast at 10.30am
Validated our Spanish rail passes and drank a gallon of water around 11.30am
Boarded our highspeed (330km) train at 12.30pm
Pax went down for his nap around 1pm...slept until about 2.30pm...we just enjoyed the downtime
Arrived at 3.30pm into Málaga train station
Mom and Ned picked us up and we got lost and then made it to the Marbella Marriot around 5pm

Whew. That was a long day.

Other stuff we've done has included driving to the hilltown of Ronda, the beach (a few hundred feet from our room), the sauna/steam room, tapas, ice cream, café, and driving around southern Spain all day yesterday.

We left yesterday morning around 6.30am to drive to Tarifa where we'd pick up the ferry to Morocco, but the winds were too crazy to allow passage, so they canceled all the ferries for the day (and today as well). So, we grabbed breakfast and then kept driving up to Vejer, Cádiz, Medina Sidonia, Los Barrios, Algeciras, and a few other places. Many pueblos blancos, mostly mediocre food, and a crap load of wind.

All in all, amazing. The sights were beautiful. Turquoise waters, 8th Century BC Phoenician ruins, Roman temples/cathedrals, Moorish domes, roads and more roads.

I bet that all in all, we drove for 5 hours yesterday. The countryside was beautiful.

Here's a quick shot from a 17th century church. Holly posted more pics here and here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Question

What do you think is the most universal of all human experience?

And, do you think that it is uniting/divisive/both?

(Of course, all we have are our own thoughts and the thoughts of others, but I'm curious what you think about this.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Proper Evening in Paris

We've been here for well over a week now. It's been a great time. Fun to reconnect with Craig and Lora, see some folks we knew from a distance, and generally have a good time in Paris.

Traveling is something that has defined our life together, Holly's and mine. It's a very different thing to travel with a toddler. You just don't do certain things anymore. It's a bad cost-benefit ratio. And you find new things to enjoy.

But Lora offered us a night out, so we thought we'd do what adults do and frolic about in gay Par-ee.

I found a place in Montmartre, but it was closed on Wednesdays, so I found another spot called Les Elysées near the Arc de Triumphe, so we made a reservation, boarded the METRO and arrived just a few minutes late.

No big deal.

The entire dining room was empty, and they said our reservation name like they had really been expecting us. Weird. The whole hour plus that we were there, we were the only people in the room. What gives? It seated probably 50 people and had only positive ratings online. "Renovation," they told us. Anyway, just weird.

Holly got the Sole and I opted for an plate based on the wine I chose. I have been trying to try wines from anywhere in southern France...Cote du Rhone, Languedoc, Provence. I got a Vin de Pays from Languedoc that I'd guess was Cab based, and was really yummy.

The suggested plate with the wine: Roasted Boar with Forgotten Vegetables. See below.

Forgotten Vegetables? Not sure what those were that I ate...perhaps root veggies. The boar was unlike anything I'd ever eaten before. I have had pork (of course), but this was not like pork. Also, the waiter suggested it be cooked medium. "For Pork?!?" I thought. But I took his suggestion.

All in all, it was fine, not terribly gamey, but ridiculously difficult to cut. No kidding: Like a friggin leather shoe. Wow. I had to floss when I got home. It also made me think about how at one point human's wisdom teeth were very helpful in the wild.

Anyway, finished dinner and walked the Champs de Elysées and found a movie theatre and hopped in for Benjamin Button, a movie I had wanted to see for some time. Holly went with me on it. Wow. 3+ hours of a not-so-realized Forrest Gump-Simon Birch hybrid. I enjoyed parts, but it certainly dragged on (as Michael suggested it would) and didn't really deliver...too close to reality to be a myth...to mythical to be considered real. It didn't really hit, you know? C'est la vie....which apparently the French don't say. They just shrug.

Anyway, we are here for 1 more day, then we hop on the Metro, RER, and then an airplane to Madrid, followed by a high-speed train to Málaga, where my family will pick us up and drive us to Marbella. Oh, that's all on Saturday. And it starts before the kiddo normally wakes up. Geez.

Anyway, just checking in.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Protest Number Du

It's fun to be staying on Montparnasse..a main street.

This is a pro-Tibetan-independence protest. I'm guessing it's being
brought on by the anniversary of the monks who were killed (?).

Friday, March 06, 2009


As you may (or may not) know, Holly and I have been designing a new quarterly magazine that's releasing it's first issue April 1st. It's a pretty exciting venture, and I'm hoping that the content will change and take a more (un)defined non "religious-only" direction in the issues ahead. Still, most of us that contributed come from a faith background, so this first issue demonstrates that.

We're now calling for content for the second issue, so I'll paste the info below. I'm excited about this issue because it's dealing with REVOLUTIONARY ACTS that hopefully go beyond the most obvious examples. It's a chance to redeem the mundane with revolutionary intention.

So, here it is, and feel free to comment/email me with any questions. Word.

Call For Visions And Voices For Summer 2009 Issue

DATE: Summer 2009 (July)
GENERAL THEME: Revolutionary Acts


When it is yellow do you let it mellow? Have you U-locked your neck to a war plane? Do you know a guy who knows a guy who went to Gaza? Do you have a Ché T-shirt? Do you only ride a bike? Do you only eat food that fell from the vine? Do you only eat food that came from a dumpster? Do you spend a good bit of your time paralyzed by the fact that at any moment what you do could oppress someone somewhere?

For those of us who are desperate for the kingdom on earth, revolutionary acts can be the fringe version of “keeping up with the Jones. “ In this issue, we explore what transformative and healing change really look like. In what ways can our revolutionary acts inspire and build up? In what ways can they destroy community or be destructive? What exactly is that true balance of fearless leadership, gentle spirit, pure motive, and organic, fair-trade living?

We aren’t trying to impress each other here, but to really work with the powerful—and the icky—sides of revolutionary acts.

Here is your chance to probe mystery of an insistent call and the consequences (physical and spiritual) of taking a stand. In part, we imagine a compendium of amazing and inspiring ideas shared by creative souls. But if we are honest, we’ll also grapple with some of the spiritual byproducts of revolutionary living–good and bad. Does it set us free, and how? Does it unleash some icky stuff–ego, judgementalism, the need to prove something (what? to whom?). What are the spiritual fruits of failure or the challenges of success?

Tell us ten small things we can do today that will change the fabric of our society. (Make sure you did them). Or simply tell us the story of how practicing them reworked your heart from the inside out. Hand us a cool, tall glass of hope.

Did Jesus call you to turn the tables? Did he ask you to give it all up?

Is my life enough?

Tell us a story–your own or the story of someone you know. Whisper your dreams of a new way.

We are looking for various kinds of materials: Articles: Articles can range from 200 to 1,500 words, Artwork & Photography, Poetry, Short Fiction, Reviews, Letters To The Editors

The deadline for submissions is April 20, 2009.

Submit Content To: editors@conspiremagazine.com

No large image files, please. Small, low-res jpegs, or links to online galleries.

WHO WE ARE: Conspire! is a quarterly publication that shares stories of community, revolutionary love, and creative new visions. Conspire! stubbornly insists that small, daily acts of faith, conviction, and integrity can change the world.

List of Community Co-conspirators: The Simple Way, AWIP, Rutba House, New Providence Community Church, Servants Vancouver, Flood, Centurions Purse, Camden Community Houses, Transforming Leader's House, Alternative Seminary, Walnut Hills Fellowship, Christian Communites International (Bruderhof), Hyaets, Lahash International, Conspiring For Coatesville, Harlem House, Coral House Community, Raising Micah, Circle Venture, DC Area Community of Communities, Reimagine, Nehemiah House, The Banner House, Communality, Solomon's Porch, Circle Venture, Mulberry House, Tolstoy House, Hyaets, Detroit Villages Lahash International, Reba Place, Relational Tithe, and more to come...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pie Cookies

Thanks to Paris' robust collection of pastries, we were able to find
the alleged pie cookies. Green and yellow.

Also, it's cold here!

View From the Balcony

Only in town two days and already our first protest.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009