Biannual roundup of an ad-free blog

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This blogger has blogged so prolifically she has used up all the free space WordPress has to offer. This is good news for you because ads will no longer pop up at the bottom of posts, but it was bad news for me because I actually have to pay a small amount to engage in this form of therapy. I’m not complaining though, because I have never understood how WordPress can afford to offer this service at no charge. I’m grateful for enjoying a free ride for several years.

This list represents the most-read posts during the past 12 months, and interest in the Alamo and its plaza rose to the top once again. But thanks for continuing to give me the freedom to wander around the globe and send postcards back to San Antonio as well.

The numbers in parentheses represent the rankings from six months ago:

  1. Don’t Let Battle Zealots Overrun the Crockett Block, 2016
  2. The Madarasz Murder Mystery: Might Helen Haunt Brackenridge Park?, 2012 (1)
  3. Take pleasure in little unauthorized treasures along the River Walk before they vanish, 2015 (7)
  4. How would you feel about the Alamo with a crewcut?, 2011 (3)
  5. Please put this song on Tony’s pony and make it ride away, 2010 (5)
  6. Postcards from San Antonio a Century Ago, 2016
  7. Playspace of Yanaguana Garden bursts into bloom October 2, 2015 (8)
  8. Postcard from Madrid, Spain: Flavorful food memories, 2015
  9. Postcard from Puebla, Mexico: An unlikely trio of favorite restaurants, 2015
  10. Reviving Dia de los Muertos, 2015
  11. Postcard from Sintra, Portugal: Masonic mysteries surface at Quinta da Regaleira, 2014
  12. Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Settling into La Biznaga, 2016

Thanks for dropping by every once in a while. Love hearing your feedback.

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Postcard from Madrid, Spain: Parting shots from ‘los jubilados’

To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito.

Charles Baudelaire in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays

Saw a tweet the other day and wish I’d saved it. Asked to define her career goals in a job interview, a woman responded: “I want to use ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ as verbs.”

Not sure that proved a job-scoring answer, but I loved it. Because one of the best aspects of getting older is the freedom to wander. No one holds you to two or three weeks a year any longer. Slow travel.

We used to ponder whether our goal should be to become boulevardiers or flaneurs when we “grew up.”

Okay, time for a confession. We have failed.

Both words seem more than a tad decadent for our traveling lifestyle. We don’t stay in hoity-toity hotels. We stay in small apartments. Breakfast is not spent in cafes, but in our home-away-from-home.

As the Mister says, we are not really vacationing as much as temporarily switching zipcodes. According to the Mister’s Fitbit, instead of occupying seats in trendy spots, we traversed about 50 miles of sidewalks a week in Madrid. We only ordered a cocktail seated at a bar once. Instead of late-night barhopping and tapa-feasting with the Madrilenos, we settled in for a light salad or homemade vegetable soup en casa.

Hardly deserving of the title boulevardiers or flaneurs, we admit.

On the other hand, the word “retirees” does not have a nice ring to it. The English word sounds so exhausted and past tense.

After all, the Mister is still a bluesman, and I’m still writing. The tools of our chosen avocations – guitar and computer – accompany us everywhere. But we use those on our own schedules and because they are our passions. In Madrid, sundown generally found us at home, nestled in our basement quarters contentedly plucking on guitar strings and pecking on computer keys.

A month spent wandering in Madrid, and we are leaning toward a more optimistic-sounding Spanish term for those who no longer are hemmed in by or defined by work.

So here are some random, parting shots from los jubilados.

Hope you don’t mind switching continents, but the next slightly postdated postcards will be “mailed” from a zipcode in Puebla, Mexico.

Postcard from Madrid, Spain: Mentioning a few more museums

A month in Madrid, and we never ran out of museums. Doing a round-up of a few remaining ones so you can see how inexhaustible the supply.

El Museo del Romanticismo is one of several house museums positioning art and collections as though the owners still were present. A glimpse into gender expectations was provided in the toy room: a display case of toy soldiers for boys, a dollhouse full of nuns for girls.

The ballroom of Museo Cerralbo is over the top even for extravagant residences of the 19th century.

A glimpse into an artist’s life and work is provided in the Museo Sorolla. Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) preferred to paint his subjects en plein air, trying to capture sunlight instead of artificial light.

Oh, and then there are Goya’s ceiling frescoes and his tomb in San Antonio de la Florida….

And a large collection of art resides in the Museum of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, or Bellas Artes, because one reason Spain has produced such great artists is the country offered them support. Velazquez painted the royals; Picasso and Dali studied at the academy; and Goya was a director of the Bellas Artes. No photographs were allowed here, but the museum’s labels clearly indicate the politics of art. A Napoleonic tradition of systematically looting art was in play. Many of the pieces hanging on the walls of Bellas Artes are listed as having been retrieved from France after the final eviction of Joseph Bonaparte and the restoration of Ferdinand VII’s rule in the early 1800s.