Multi-Dimensional Barcelona

 

Looking upward toward the stone, Neo-Gothic Sagrada Familia cathedral. The foreground shows elaborate statuary within the structure.

Barcelona, the old and still vibrant Spanish city on the Mediterranean. We wondered why we even booked a cruise leaving from there, as Spain had not been high on our bucket list. It just felt like the right place at the right time. It was, indeed! Barcelona is a sensory experience like no other. Here is an experience of sights, of course, but also of touch, listen, smell, and taste. And kindness.

The Gothic Quarter

Having arrived tired in the late afternoon, we ventured out onto La Rambla and found a very busy eatery, La Poma Pizzeria. For our first experience in Spain we had spaghetti bolognese. What can I say?

After a good night’s sleep we thought we’d explore La Rambla to get a feel for where we were. About a block down, we encountered a busy walkway off to our left with a triangular or V-shaped building. A busy pedestrian walkway. A V-shaped building separates 2 narrow walkways. On the right are the pedestrian Walk signal and the store Mango.Walkways went on each side. “Which way?” “I don’t know. Left I guess.” We followed a narrow passageway with some stores along each side. The sounds echoed softly as my wheelchair tires bumped across 500 year old cobbles.  Then came a steep incline that took both Sandy and me to get my chair up. At the top, a busy plaza and beyond that the Cathedral of Barcelona. Built largely in the 1300’s, it is is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. The Gothic cathedral is almost in silhouette against a sky of deep blue with white clouds. Toward the left rise the main spire and several smaller ones. Toward the right is the stone structure that makes up the rest of the building.From its rough, stone walls that beg to be touched to the young man filling the square with his opera (not amplified) you can feel the vibrancy.

La Rambla

Just a few pushes of the wheelchair rims from the entrance of the Hotel 1898 is La Rambla. This is a wide pedestrian walkway running north and south from the circle in the north to the port and statue of Christopher Columbus at the south. Unlike the cobbles of the oldest part of the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla is a a wavy surface of rectangular tiles. My expectations were that they would ride rough, but the reality was that riding on them was a bit of a massage. Wide, tree lined pedestrian walkway. Buildings along each side. The surface is rippled and made of rectangular tiles.

Along the sides of the walkway are shops selling souvenirs, gelato, and fresh flowers. Near the south end these give way to tables where tourists enjoy tapas and sangria.2 large glasses or red sangria with fruit floating and colorful straws. They are sitting on a table with a white tablecloth. La Rambla is about tactile and sound. Mostly couples speaking softly in Spanish, English, French, and some Chinese create a blend that seemed almost musical. I’m sure this got “livelier” late in the evening, but this guy is seldom out late. This sensory delight is a full day’s experience if taken slowly.

 

La Sagrada Familia

Towering above a newer part of Barcelona is la Sagrada Familia. Still under construction, I wonder if it will ever be finished. The architect Antoni Gaudi spent the last 40 years of his life working on it full time, and he died in 1926. He is buried in the crypts. The lines were excruciatingly long. Learning about an area in advance often pays off. We went to the back side of the cathedral where there is an entrance for people with disabilities. Parts of the cathedral are not accessible, and some had a rather steep ramp. There is plenty to experience, anyway. Multiple stone columns soar upward in the cathedral. In the background and on the right side are the magnificent stained glass windows filling the space with light.

Towering pillars support a ceiling that is far up. With the stone walls and floor, stained glass windows, and columns sounds echo and reverberate gently creating a sense of awe that I’m afraid most visitors might not notice amidst the marvelous statuary and windows.

A word about accessibility

Barcelona is old, but much effort has been put into making it accessible to everyone. There are curb cuts with tactile warnings, designated pedestrian crossings on La Rambla, and a genuine effort. Buses are accessible. We took the big red on and off tour bus. All of its busses have low floors and ramps that flip out. Everyone was eager to flip the ramp, no hassles.

As I write this the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., please be mindful that each of us has much for which to be thankful. Family and friends mean more than anything we can imagine. And when things seem overwhelming, remember the simple flip up ramps and the people eager to help. No one can do it all; try to be thankful for what we can do and build upon our strengths.

Next up, day stops at Cartagena and Malaga. Each of these had its unique charms. Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate all of you. Please comment and let me know what interests you and what questions you have for me. Be forewarned, I might answer them!

Photos: Main photo is la Sagrada Familia, a large Neo-Gothic style, unfinished cathedral. Ornate carvings fill the facade. Second photo is a busy pedestrian walkway with a V-shaped building creating 2 narrow walkways. On the right are the pedestrian cross walk sign and the store Mango. Third picture is the Cathedral of Barcelona towering into a blue sky with white clouds. To the left are the main spire and several smaller ones. The right is the stone, Gothic  building. Fourth picture is La Rambla. A tree lined pedestrian walkway with buildings on either side. The surface is ripples made of rectangular tiles. Fifth picture is 2 large glasses of red sangria with fruit floating and colorful straws. Sixth picture is inside la Sagrada Familia. Stone column literally soar toward the ceiling. In the background and to the right are the magnificent stained glass windows that fill the area with light. 

it’s the humidity

The classic American summer begins on Memorial Day (May 30) and ends on Labor Day (early September), which puts the Fourth of July pretty much in the middle. Close up of a huge, yellow sunflower. Yellow petals with an amber center.
Mix Florida with July 4th, and the result is a hot day. The forecast for Florida every day, every summer is the same: 90’s and thunderstorms.

One summer we went to Las Vegas. “It won’t be hot here because the humidity is low.” It was hot.

There is a point to all this. For many of us who are heat sensitive, whether it be due to multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, paralysis, or any number of chronic diseases, summer can be a difficult time. “Do you want to meet on the patio at the Crooked Can about 5:30?” In hopes of a miracle, I check the forecast. “I’d love to if we could make it later. Say October?”

So when those of us in your group of summer loving, heat wilting friends seem to be in hibernation, we actually are. Unlike Las Vegas, however, it is not hot in Florida. “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity.”

On this auspicious American holiday I thank you for stopping by. The air conditioner is humming along nicely, and the thunderstorm missed us, so all is well. I love your comments. What are your thoughts on summer?

Picture: Close up of a huge sunflower. It has yellow petals and an amber center.

 

A safe port if you need it

Close up of Leprechaun on the sidewalk. He is wearing a blue hat with black band and large buckle, has huge, green eyes, a big smile, red beard, and green suit.

We all like to travel. Be if halfway around the world or to the next town, there is a bit of wanderlust in all of us. Most of us, anyway. Explore places we’ve not been, encounter new things, make friends. It’s all so grand.

And it can also be tiring. A few years ago Sandy and I took a cruise from Harwich to Boston. One of the stops was Cork, where our accessible tour drove us around a bit, twice past what they called the “insane asylum,” and dropped us at a woolen mill store. It was nice but not for 3 hours. It was a tiring day.

The next day we were in Dublin. Determined not to let this day slip away, we explored beautiful Trinity College and then boarded a hop on, hop off tour. Things went well until we finished the Guinness tour and had to push up a long hill of bricks and cobbles. Once at the top we waited for the tour trolley. And we waited. Finally a full trolly came along and said the one for us had broken down and they would be along in about 30 minutes. So we stood, I sat, on the corner with some other people in the windy cold.

Having finished the tour, we wanted to explore Grafton Street with its shops and flower markets and then finish in St. Steven’s Green. Problem… By now we are tired and hungry and in need of a rest stop. Where do we go? It’s all so pretty but nowhere to stop. Flower market with cut flowers. They are on rustic, wooden crates and look artful and creative. Small sign reads Celtic Cart.

Ah ha! Behold, McDonald’s! A small burger, some fries, a Diet Coke, and a restroom. We have visited McDonald’s around the world. We’ve had McLobster, McPizza, and Taiwan’s best seller, the QPC. The point is, it is great to explore. But fatigue, especially for someone with a chronic disease like MS or fibromyalgia, can intrude on the day. It is okay to stop, rest, and take advantage of a familiar, friendly port. Not everything has to be new and exciting for the day to be a success.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments. Which brings up another topic. I perceive we are having some mechanical issues with Popping Wheelies and your ability to Like or Comment. I hope these appear for you in both your subscription email and on the blog. If they don’t, please click the title of the particular blog post, a new one will appear, and you can Like or Comment. We are working on the problem, and two kind people from WordPress are helping. I apologize if things aren’t as we want, but we are working on it. Thank you for your patience.

Pictures: Top photo is large and features a leprechaun wearing a blue hat with a black band and large, silver buckle. He has large, green eyes and a red beard, and he is smiling brightly. Second photo is a small flower stand with cut flowers nicely displayed on rustic, wooden crates. There is a small sign reading Celtic Cart.

 

Roaming around Animal Kingdom

A green sign reading Disney's Animal Kingdom with a large number 20 to the left.

It is hard to imagine that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is 20 years old. Today Sandy and I went to what is becoming our favorite amongst the Florida theme parks. A few months ago I wrote about our visit to Beautiful Pandora. (Click or tap the link to read that entry.)

This time we visited Asia and Africa. Let’s digress… Animal Kingdom is huge. Most Disney parks take more than 1 day to truly experience. Today was the most people we have seen since Christmas Day a few years ago, so we chose quality over quantity and made no effort to explore the whole park.

The side of a building with a sign reading Brass Pots, an old light fixture, and 3 well worn brass pots.Lunch is not for the person with a thin wallet. My $15 Kobe burger with fries was actually quite good with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and an authentic asian pickle. Sandy’s $11 honey chicken was excellent with tender white meat, nicely seasoned. No one ever said a good lunch in a theme park is cheap. We got a nice, outdoor table nestled between some lovely plants and the “market” that touts brass pots. We took our time and enjoyed watching people.

Selfie with George and Sandy. George is wearing a large, straw hat, sunglasses, and green V-neck tee. Sandy has her long hair down and is wearing sunglasses and a striped top.After a bit of shopping came a difficult decision. Left past the soft serve ice cream truck toward Expedition Everest or right past the Dole Whip stand at the edge of Harambe in Africa. We have good soft serve near home, so Africa it was. After a stop for more hydration, we decided to work our way toward the exit. I’d pushed myself much of the time, and there is only so much energy for my MS and me to share.

An area of greenery featuring orchids with yellow flowers.
The vegetation was beautiful, of course, but the spring greens were at peak today. Orchids, as well. Next time we might be well rested and go in the evening. And where will be eat dinner? Starbucks for a turkey sandwich? Maybe. You never know.

Thank you for stopping by. I am so thankful when you do. It was a fun day, and I’m glad Sandy and I got to share it with you. By the way, the temperature reached 88 degrees (31 degrees Celsius). It was definitely warm.

 

 

Photos: Top photo is a green sign reading Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a large number 20 to the left. Second photo is the side of a building with a sign reading Brass Pots, an old light fixture, and 3 well worn brass pots. Third photo is the required selfie with George and Sandy. George is wearing a large, straw hat, sunglasses, and green V-neck tee. Sandy has her long hair down and is wearing sunglasses and a striped top. Fourth picture is an area of greenery featuring orchids with yellow flowers.

 

Replanting and writing again

Portrait framed photo with newly planted, but large, crotons along the edge of a brick patio with a white, Greek type statue at the far end.I’ve been planting again, and hopefully writing will happen, too. In the post Winter solstice and the patio  I showed some crotons and dusty millers that we put out before Christmas to replace those that died in Hurricane Irma. All except the dusty miller froze out during the record cold that followed.

With the arrival of spring, we are not so pressed for time and have planted the beginnings of a hedge of rosemary. This friendly herb will grow tall, likes the sun, and be tolerant when I don’t get it watered. I hope.Foreground is a brick patio, raised above the lawn, that has planters with hand high rosemary plants. Receeding is an ornamental grass, and at the end a dusty miller plant.

In the front, Sandy and I have been trimming up a potted bush whose name I haven’t a clue. It is green with red blooms and flourishes in Central Florida. In front of it I replaced two red pentas that also died in the freeze. Tall, ornamental green plant with red blossoms in the shape of small trumpets hanging down. Very bottom shows 2 small pentas.

Writing again… I have a “new” writing table. Finding one hasn’t been quick, though I’ve wanted one for some time. My legs just barely fit under it, but how much clearance do I need? They fit. And the table fits the style of our home. It even fit the budget.

So things are happening slowly and, to be inaccurate, surely. Thank you for stopping by. I am always grateful that you did and love for you to make comments.

Off white, antique distressed table. It has 43 shallow drawers and turned wooden legs. On the table are a green desk lamp, writing pad with sharpie, reading glasses, laptop computer, large Donald Duck mug, antique looking magnifying glass, a coaster, and a tray for mail.

Here’s a little smile for those who managed to read this far. It’s a bloom on our magnolia tree, which is just off the patio in the back.

Dark green magnolia leaves surround a large, white bloom.

Top photo: Raised, brick patio with planters along the edge and a Greek style, white statue in the background. Planters contain new crotons, a tall grass, and some dusty millers. Second photo shows the same planters in close up with new, hand high rosemary plants, an ornamental grass, and a dusty miller that survived the freeze. Third photo is a large plant with long green leaves and red, trumpet-like blooms hanging down with 2 small pentas at the bottom. Fourth photo is a writing table, well worn off-white color, turned wooden legs, and 3 drawers. On the table are a writing lamp with green glass shade, writing tablet with Sharpie, reading glasses, laptop computer, large Donald Duck mug, antique style magnifying glass, and a tray for mail. 

An afternoon conversation

George sitting on an outdoor sofa. Legs crossed, hands folded on one knee. Blond hair, brown aviator sunglasses, white sweater with blue stripes, blue pants, blue Converse shoes, and a small cross around the neck.

Please join me in a bit of conversation. What is on your mind? I’d like to hear from you. In the meantime, I’ll ramble.

Things have been chaotic and energy consuming. The elephant in my room is my wheelchair, to which you will notice I am not confined. Trust me, it’s just out of the picture frame. But it is fatigue that bothers me most, and I’m finally at the end of an MS exacerbation. Thank goodness.

I am getting a new writing desk! Since we moved two years ago, I have captained the small desk in the kitchen that should belong to Sandy. (The desk, not the kitchen. We’ll talk about the kitchen in an upcoming post.) It will be better for both of us, and I will have more opportunity to plan and write.

Have you had your eyes checked lately? This is an eye doc talking, and I’m reminding you to get it done. I had a very thorough, dilated exam last week. Glaucoma is something that needs to be watched for, as for most people it can be stopped or slowed. It is important to check the retinas and the optic nerves. Of course, there is the chart and “which is better, 3 or 4?.” By the way, it is not a test with correct answers, and they might look alike. I had a slight change in my glasses Rx. The doctor and I talked about my light sensitivity and how to manage it. She had some helpful ideas. So go – just do it, please.

It has been a rock and roll afternoon with the severe weather alerts going off every few minutes. We had planned to go to Epcot today, but the forecast called for severe storms, which we are getting as we speak. It feels like a hurricane with intense lightning and thunder. The flower and patio show is going on. We have a few days open, so maybe I can share a few pictures.

This has reached the end. There is only so much you want to hear. Thank you for stopping by. Step or roll out onto the lanai and join me on the outdoor sofa. There is a fridge in the garage stocked with whatever you’d like – and dark chocolate.

2 Hershey's Kisses with purple foil and tags that say "dark."

Top photo shows George sitting on an outdoor sofa. Blond hair, brown aviator sunglasses, white sweater with blue stripes, blue pants, blue Converse shoes, and a small cross around the neck. Legs crossed, hands folded on the knee. The bottom photo is 2 Hershey’s Kisses with purple wrappers indicating the dark chocolate.

Orange hat and sunglasses

George is sitting in front of lush vegetation with a waterfall. He is sidewalk in the wheelchair with the front foot on the ground. Wearing an orange hat, bright green shirt, jeans shorts, and flip flops.

It has been awhile, and I apologize. Things have not gone exactly smoothly. After reacting to a new medicine in October, one side effect led to another as I felt like I was on a downward spiral. My multiple sclerosis reared its ugly head, as well. A few weeks ago my doctor and I agreed that it was time to stop all new things and let my body clear itself. It has been slow, but I think we see progress.

I had hoped to be back in the gym and on my bike, but stretching and light exercise are as far as I’ve gotten so far. With spring suddenly here (remember I’m in Florida) I feel better, and the pool will soon be ready. Next week I’m going to get some sun, fresh air, and relaxation. I’ll have new books on my Kindle and audiobooks on my phone. I’m not going to stress over anything. This is it. Do it, George.

Sometimes things go badly. The point is to try and keep our heads clear and our spirits up. Sandy has been my guiding angel. Several of you have done much to help, too. Things are looking better, thank you.

By the way, I realize that clothing combination is not exactly “correct.” Sometimes it is good to simply have fun and disregard what someone else might think. There is a fun person inside all of us just wanting to be given the chance.

And thanks for stopping by. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share with you. I appreciate your comments, too.

Picture shows George in front of lush foliage with a waterfall. He is wearing an orange hat, brown sunglasses, bright green shirt, jeans shorts, and flip flops. He is sideways in his wheelchair with one foot forward and on the ground.

Captain, camera, and coloring

IMG_0826If you were to ask me my favorite villain I’d tell you it’s a toss up between Auric Goldfinger and the delightful Captain Hook. (Delightful, George? Okay, maybe not all that delightful.) I enjoy his antics and his frustrations.

I’m creative by nature, and that has been expressed with photography and writing. This summer I saw some adult coloring. “Can I do that?” I watched a 10 minute video on YouTube and was hooked, pun intended. Off to the crafts store! I started with 12 colors and soon added over 100 more.

I learned that in adult coloring there are no rules. Color what you like in any colors you like. Let your imagination guide you. With that in mind I chose my first project, a camera. But not just any camera, a Flower Power camera!fullsizeoutput_17afWith my strongest reading glasses and my pencils I enter a zone of concentration free of outside stresses. Time passes unnoticed. One day I almost forgot to eat lunch.

Since nobody’s perfect and there aren’t any rules, there is no penalty for the mistake I made in the Captain Hook picture. If you look between his legs, you’ll notice a small area of ocean I forgot to color. Oops. I noticed it after getting this ready to share. It has now been corrected, by the way.

I like to see how others share their lives and experiences. I love to read and listen to audiobooks, see your pictures on Instagram, and read your blogs. Thank you for stopping by and indulging me whilst I ramble about villains and psychedelic cameras. However you express yourself, enjoy your time and know that others enjoy your work.

Media: Both pictures feature adult coloring. The top is of Disney’s Captain Hook with a bit of liberty taken with the colors. He has flowing blond hair, a red and purple hat, a red coat with purple and green trim. He is on board a ship with sword drawn and pointing downwards. The second picture is a 35mm camera in shades of purple, blue, orange, peach, and yellow. It has lavender eyes and an inverted heart shaped nose in orange. It has flowers and fringe of orange, yellow, and teal. 

Winter solstice and the patio

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Earlier this year I wrote about the empty pot and suggested we should view the full ones instead. The empty pots By the end of summer and damage to the plants in Hurricane Irma there was almost nothing left. All the pots were empty. The winter solstice here in Florida means a time of cooler weather and a break from the seemingly endless summer. We used this time to plant anew. Even added a fresh coat of paint to the old lawn furniture.

fullsizeoutput_173bAs the days get longer I’m hoping to make more progress in working through my arm and shoulder woes, get through the reaction to a prescription med, and begin to feel almost human again. Like the new plantings in the old pots, this is the time to grow again.

The flowers were available when we first planted, but they were not a really good idea. They were delicate in the heat and attracted bees to which I am highly allergic. Now we have colorful perennials that should  take the heat and the cold and be okay if (when) I miss a day of watering.

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We still have the aloe, rosemary, and oregano, as those perennials literally weathered the storm. And in the front of the house the small rose is blooming.

As I was watering this morning, a songbird landed in the top of the elm and began singing. (Does anyone know what this bird is? White tip tail; I think it might be a mockingbird, as is sounds very much like a sparrow.) In Florida the beginning of winter was a new beginning on the patio and I hope in my life. fullsizeoutput_173a

My family will be arriving from Taiwan just before Christmas. Sandy and I are excited beyond words and feeling truly blessed. We wish all of you the joy of Christmas. Thank you so very much for stopping by and for your support. You are awesome!

Media: The top photo shows 3 small and 1 large planter with a red, ornamental grass, colorful crotons, and a tall tai plant; green bushes a behind. Below on the right is the edge of the brick patio with planters of grasses and crotons leading to the statue (her name is Gina) that has graced our patio for years. Then below on the left is the truck planter now planted with succulents. Center are the herbs, aloe plant, and the rose that is beside the front walkway. The final picture is a songbird in the top of a drake (Chinese) elm that has mostly lost its leaves for the winter. The bird is gray with white on the breast and has white on the tips of the tail that can be seen in flight.

 

 

The empty pots

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It’s a truck load of flowers, and it is delivering a load of pleasure. Or is it? What do we see or feel or smell?

Near our truck are pots of flowers, fragrant and a delight on the patio.

But next to the truck is a planter of pots whose flowers could not take the Florida summer heat. Or maybe I didn’t water them like I should have. IMG_0349.JPG

What do we choose? Do we   dwell on the empty pots, or do we smell the flowers? It is all too easy, and I think maybe even natural, to say, “That bare spot is ugly,” when there is so much to enjoy.

This is something that I am having to tell myself over and over, literally every day as I try to rehab my arm and shoulder. How much can I get back? How much function can I, as a full time wheelie, hope to regain? The point here is that moan and groan while there is beauty and love around us is just not the answer.

I hope y’all are doing well and having a good summer. Thank you for stopping by, and I always appreciate your comments and will try to answer. You are the flowers in my garden.

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Photos: Top is a concrete planter in the shape of an old time truck with a bed of red pentas. Second is a row of circles, each featuring a healthy and attractive plant. Third is a large photo of a concrete planter with three empty pots. Bottom is an explosion of Mexican heather that is loving our hot, humid summer.