Category Archives: #sketcholics

Untitled, soft pastel and pen, 2020

fear of the future

2020, 14th June

 

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SRapallo, Abigail, watercolor and pencil, Brazil, 2020

ballerina plant

Abigail is a little plant that always dreams she was dancing. She wanted to be a ballerina and she had all the qualities of a good one. She was skinny, had long skinny legs, very graceful arms, a delicate face and a proportional head too. If she were a real person she would certainly be a “prima ballerina” in any ballet school in the world.

But she was confined in that potted plant, she could only elevate her arms, move her head a little and dance, normally to the sun. The sun was always watching her. He could see her moving her little head and arms, feeling blessed by the warm sunlight that gives her tons of energy to move, even if it’s almost imperceptible movements. Imagine the effort a plant needs to move her head and arms… sometimes a little breeze helped her, of course. We all need a little push now and then, but sometimes there was no breeze at all or sometimes it was not just an innocent breeze, better described as a mild wind or a rainy one. In that case, her dancing would be more energetic, uncontrollable and even scary if the rain was too strong for her delicate arms. Most of the time the wind, in the true spirit of nature solidarity, wanted to help her with her movements, but a wind’s gotta do what a wind’s gotta do!

No, she wants to choose when to dance, where to dance and how to dance. Her most inner desire was to get out of that potted plant. Abigail was not “born” in that potted plant. She was accidentally misplaced with a fruit tree that Susana bought for her house. She was still a little seed inside that big potted plant that came with the jabuticaba tree. No one knew she was there, protected by the wooden ships the garden store had put on the top of the pot. And as we let nature do what nature does best, she kept growing and growing, receiving all the nutrients she needed.

And then one day, and we don’t know how long it took her to grow because plants don’t count days as we do, she saw the outside world for the first time. What a wonderful surprise!!! The light, the beautiful light and the blue sky and the other big tree that was her neighbor – from her point of view the jabuticaba was so, so big – and she was as happy as a plant can be when everything she needs is provided. And the sun, the warm sun… bright, big and powerful sunlight that makes her grow even faster and stronger. She was blessed she thought.

Her keeper, Susana (we humans think we own things but we are just keepers, everything is transitory, including ourselves), was at the hospital again, fighting against her second cancer and her daughter gave her an orchid planted in a white vase. Orchids are absolutely beautiful and exotic, but they don’t last long and Susana still doesn’t know how to replant them. So, when the orchid dried, she took her out and decide to give to that little plant her own pot.

Abigail was amazed by her new home. From her own pot she could see the jabuticaba tree and also Susana’s kitchen garden on the opposite side. From that new spot she received more sunlight and this was awesome! It was this time she started having those weird ideas about moving herself when she constantly saw people moving around on the street. Yes, she could see the street now – young children riding bicycles, old people, couples walking, going she didn’t know where and doing she didn’t know what. Her curiosity started to itching her really badly. Abigail wondered what makes people move? And run!!.. she could even see children playing with a round a object, running and screaming at the condo in front of hers. What do they possess that I don’t?

SRapallo, Abigail, watercolor and pencil, Brazil, 2020
SRapallo, Abigail, watercolor and pencil, Brazil, 2020

Legs, of course, she thought. But she knew she had legs too, she could feel them inside the earth – her roots – of course plants have legs too, but they just are not allowed to move them outside the earth. This is a common knowledge – one of the incontestable rules of nature. But in her dreams she could move her legs, she could get out of that container and dance and jump and move her entire body. For god’s sake she was a ballerina!!! And ballerinas moves all their bodies in graceful movements and energetic postures, from their head to their small fingers. If in her deepest inner soul she was a ballerina, so, why all those physical limitations?

One day something special happened. Something special always happens for the special ones!!! An accident, an unexpected accident involving the cat. Yes, there is a cat living at that house too. And there is a bird, in fact two birds that comes regularly to eat the jabuticabas and we all know that cat loves to catch birds – if they are fast enough to complete this task. But Chunks, the cat, was an old cat already and his reflexes were not as good as they were some fifteen years ago.

Susana didn’t see the scene, but Abigail, who was involved in the accident, saw everything. Chunks got a glimpse at the bird, he was sitting in the garden chair next to the table where Abigail was, and then he jumped over the table to catch the bird and accidentally knocked over the pot where Abigail was. What a shock!!! She almost broke her delicate leaves.

A miracle happened… she could move her roots and dance. She was able to get off the pot plant and dance!!! And so she did, she danced and danced all night long. She decided she was never going back to that pot plant. Her most inner desire was dancing and she was just doing it. But she dances so much that she was getting exhausted, her feet starts to shaking, she was feeling weak, so much weak. Now she could barely move! she collapsed by exhaustion! She needs earth and minerals and water…. but she was unable to move her legs anymore. She thought if she could just rest a little bit she would be fine… but she was in serious conditions, almost dying in fact.

The next day Susana woke up and saw the whole catastrophic scenario: the broken pot, the plant and, of course, the cat, Chunks, with the most innocent face!! She was afraid the plant was damage for good, but she decided she would try to replant it. After all it would worth a trial.

Abigail was still weak but after a day or two she was fine again. Happy as ever because she had her dream come true and she was healthy again. Now, at night she keeps looking at the moonlight and dreaming about getting out and dance again! Well, she learned a lesson, but she was willing to try that magical experience again if she had another miracle chance. And we all know that miracles happens now and then for the ones who believe in those silly things.

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Notes: This is a work of fiction, but the pot plant, the jabuticaba tree and the cat are real. Abigail is real too and she still thinks she is a ballerina.

Copyright 2020 by Susana Rapallo

Abigail

SRapallo, photo, Brazil, 2020

Abigail a planta bailarina

(texto em Português)

Abigail era uma plantinha que sempre sonhou que podia bailar. Ela sempre quis ser uma bailarina e possuia todas as qualidades para ser uma das boas. Ela era magra, tinha longas pernas, braços expressivos, uma face delicada e uma cabeça bem proporcional também. Se ela fosse uma humana real, certamente poderia ter sido uma “prima ballerina” em qualquer escola de ballet do mundo.

Mas ela estava confinada a viver naquele pote de planta, como planta era, ela somente conseguia erguer suas pétalas superiores, mover levemente a cabeça e fazer pequenos e imperceptíveis movimentos de dança para o sol. O Sol estava sempre vendo-a dançar. Ele podia vê-la movendo sua pequena cabeça e braços, sentindo-se abençoada pelos raios solares que lhe davam muito energia, essencial para esses nesses pequenos e imperceptíveis movimentos. Imagine o esforço que uma planta precisa para mover seus “braços e cabeça” .. às vezes ela podia contar com a ajuda de uma pequena brisa, claro. Nós sempre precisamos de um empurrãozinho de vez em quando, mas havia dias que ou não tinha brisa nenhuma ou, ao contrário, podia ter muita ventania, às vezes com chuvas. Nesses casos, sua dança era mais energética, incontrolável e até mesmo amedontradora para seus pequenos “braços” delicados. Na maioria das vezes, o vento, num verdadeiro espírito de solidariedade, tentava ajudá-la em seus movimentos, mas, os ventos são ventos e fazem os que os ventos devem fazer!

Não, ela queria escolher quando dançar, aonde dançar e como dançar. Seu mais profundo desejo era poder sair daquele pote de planta. Abigail não brotou naquele pote. Ela veio, acidentalmente, junto com o vaso enorme da jabuticabeira que Susana comprou para sua casa. Ela era apenas uma sementinha escondida dentro do vaso da jabuticabeira. Ninguém sabia que ela estava ali, protegida pelas lascas de casca de árvore colocadas no topo do vaso pelo jardineiro. E, quando a gente deixa a natureza fazer o que ela sabe fazer de melhor, assim ela ficou, escondida, crescendo e recebendo todos os nutrientes que precisava.

E um dia, e não se pode saber quanto tempo levou porque as plantas não contam o tempo como nós fazemos, ela viu o mundo exterior pela primeira vez. Que surpresa maravilhosa!! A luz, essa luz tão linda e esse céu tão azul e a planta gigantesca que era sua vizinha – claro, sob seu ponto de vista, a jabuticabeira era uma árvore enorme, muito grande – e ela estava feliz como felizes vivem as plantas quando recebem tudo que precisam. E o sol, o caloroso sol, brilhante, imenso e poderoso fornecendo a ela toda a energia necessária para crescer rápido e forte. Ela se sentia uma planta abençoada.

Sua cuidadora, Susana – nós humanos pensamos que possuímos alguma coisa, mas somos apenas cuidadores temporários, tudo é transitório, inclusive nós – Susana estava novamente internada no hospital tratando seu segundo câncer e sua filha deu lhe de presente uma orquídea muito linda num vaso branco. Orquídeas são muito lindas e exóticas, mas não duram muito e Susana ainda não sabe como replantá-las. Então, quando a orquídea secou, ela resolveu dar àquela plantinha um vaso só para ela.

Abigail estava admirada com sua “casa” nova. De seu pote ela podia ver a jabuticaba e também a horta vertical da Susana do outro lado da varanda. Desse lugar novo ela podia receber mais raios solares e isso era incrível! Foi nessa época que ela começou a ter essas idéias estranhas sobre se mover, claro, agora que ela podia ver a rua, ela via todo mundo se movendo – crianças andando de bicicleta, pessoas de idade, casais passeando, indo e vindo, não se sabe de onde nem para onde e nem porquê. Sua curiosidade começou a lhe provocar coceiras. Abigail se perguntava por que as pessoas podiam se mexer? E correr!!…ela podia ver crianças correndo atrás de um objeto redondo, correndo e gritando no condomínio em frente ao dela. Ela se perguntava o que eles tinham que ela não tinha?

Pernas, é claro, ela pensou. Mas ela sabia que tinha pernas também, ela podia sentí-las dentro da terra – suas raízes – claro que as plantas também têm pernas, elas simplesmente não estão autorizadas a movê-las fora da terra. Isso era de conhecimento universal – uma das incontestáveis leis da natureza. Mas em seus sonhos ela podia sim dançar e sair daquele vaso e dançar ballet e pular e mover seu corpo inteiro. Pelo amor de deus, ela era uma bailarina!!! E todo mundo sabe que bailarinas movimentam todo seu corpo com gestos graciosos e poses energéticas desde suas cabeças até o dedinho do pé. E no fundo de sua alma ela sabia que ela era uma verdadeira bailarina, então, porquê todas essas limitações físicas?

Um dia uma coisa especial aconteceu. Coisas especiais sempre acontecem para plantas especiais!!! Um acidente, um inesperado acidente envolvendo um gato. Sim, havia um gato vivendo naquela casa também. E havia um passarinho, na verdade, dois, que vinham regularmente sorver o doce suco das jabuticabas e todos nós sabemos muito bem que gatos adoram caçar passarinhos – se eles são rápidos o suficiente para conseguir tal feito. Mas Chunks, o gato, já era um gato idoso e seus reflexos já não eram como há quinze anos atrás.

Susana não viu a cena, mas Abigail, que foi involvida no acidente, viu como tudo aconteceu. Chunks viu o passarinho, ele estava sentado na cadeira da varanda perto da mesa aonde estava Abigail, e, então, ele rapidamente pulou na mesa para tentar pegar o passarinho e, acidentalmente, derrubou o pote aonde estava Abigail. Que susto!!! Ela quase partiu suas delicadas pétalas.

O sonhado milagre aconteceu…. ela podia finalmente mover melhor suas raízes. Ela seria capaz de sair, finalmente, do pote de plantas e dançar!!! E assim ela fez, escorregou junto com a terra para fora do pote e iniciou seus primeiros passos de dança e dançou a noite inteira. Enquanto bailava, ela decidiu que nunca mais voltaria para aquele vaso de plantas. Seu mais profundo desejo havia se realizado e ela o estava realizando naquele momento. Ela dançou tanto que começou a se sentir exausta, seus pés/raízes começaram a tremer e ela começou a se sentir cansada, muito cansada e muito fraca. Passado um tempo ela mal conseguia se mexer! Sentiu que iria desmaiar de exaustão! Ela precisava do alimento da terra, de minerais e de água… mas ela estava muito fraca para mover suas raízes novamente. Ela pensou que se descansasse apenas um pouquinho ela estaria bem… mas suas condições estavam piorando e ela estava morrendo.

No dia seguinte, Susana acordou e viu o cenário catástrofico: o pote quebrado, a planta no chão e o gato, Chunks, claro, com a maior cara de inocência do mundo!! Ela ficou com medo de que a planta estivesse estivesse morta, pois estava flácida, sêca e muito danificada, mas ela decidiu que poderia tentar plantá-la novamente.

Abigail estava muito fraca, mas depois de uns dias, estava se sentindo bem outra vez. Se recuperou e se podia ver que estava feliz porque ela tinha conseguido realizar seu grande sonho e estava completamente recuperada. Hoje em dia, em noites de lua nova, ela ainda fica sonhando em conseguir sair novamente do pote de plantas e dançar ballet! Bom, ela aprendeu uma lição, mas estava disposta a repetir aquele experiência mágica se tivesse outra chance de acontecer um milagre. E todos nós sabemos que milagres acontecem uma vez ou outra para as plantas que acreditam nessas coisas bobas.

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Notas: Esta é uma obra de ficção, mas o vaso de planta, a jabuticabeira e o gato são reais. Abigail é real também e ela ainda pensa que é uma bailarina.

Copyright 2020 by Susana Rapallo

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017

Sala de Despiece – A laboratory gastronomique

Again a must in my neighbourhood ….I’m never tired to mention that, how much I love Chamberi….

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018

First you don’t understand what’s going on. This tapas bar has a unique concept, I never saw anything like this elsewhere. What the heck is this place?. Looks like you are in a butchery, in a meal treatment place… looks like industrial, like you are eating in a cutting room.

The other thing the caught your attention is… you need to help to finish the preparation of you own meal… they show you how to do it and you have to do it yourself if you wanna eat. …. So, you need to help finalize your own food…. and that experience is very enjoyable, and the server helps your with the torch… everything looks like you are eating in a gastronomique laboratory. Like they said It’s a white spotless space, inspired by the cutting areas from butcher´s shops or fish markets. Such spotless spirit is maintained by the team’s white aprons, and a space barely touched by decorative details paying tribute to the butcher’s profession.

Sala de Despiece
Calle de Ponzano, 11, Chamberi

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017

+34.917.52.61.06

Website: http://www.saladedespiece.com/en/sala-de-despiece/

They don’t accept reservations. At Sala de Despiece counter seating is assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Go there and enjoy the lab experience, I guarantee you won’t regret.

SUSANARAPALLO.COM

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018

Sorolla, el pintor de la luz

One of my favorite´s  place to sketch  in Madrid. The Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla was born on February 27, 1863 in Valencia, Spain. The artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. It is situated at Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37 -Chamberí – Madrid.

Sorolla’s work is represented in museums throughout Spain, Europe, America, and in many private collections in Europe and America. In 1909 he made a successful debut in the United States in a solo exhibition at the Hispanic Society in New York City. The resulting critical acclaim won him a commission to paint President William Howard Taft in 1909. In 1933, J. Paul Getty purchased ten Impressionist beach scenes made by Sorolla, several of which are now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In 1960, Sorolla, el pintor de la luz, the master of depicting sun and water, a short documentary written and directed by Manuel Domínguez was presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2007 many of his works were exhibited at the Petit Palais in Paris. In 2009, there was a special exhibition of his works at the Prado in Madrid, and in 2010, the exhibition visited the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil.

From 5 December 2011 to 10 March 2012, several of Sorolla’s works were exhibited in Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, in New York. This exhibition included pieces used during Sorolla’s eight-year research for The Vision of Spain. His style was a variant of Impressionism and whose best works, painted in the open air, vividly portray the sunny seacoast of Valencia. Sorolla was from a poor family and was orphaned at age two. He displayed an early talent and was admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at age 15. After further studies in Rome and Paris, he returned to Valencia.

Upon his return to Spain, he purchased a beach house in Valencia, on the Mediterranean shore. For the rest of his career, he drew his inspiration from the dazzling light on the waters by his home, and his beach scenes are marked by sharp contrasts of light and shade, brilliant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes. That´s why he is called the ¨painter of the light¨ (el pintor de la luz).

The Museo Sorolla – The building was originally the artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. Designed by Enrique María Repullés. The principal rooms continue to be furnished as they were during the artist’s life, including Sorolla’s large, well-lit studio, where the walls are filled with his canvasses. Other rooms are used as galleries to display Sorolla’s paintings, while the upstairs rooms are a gallery for special exhibitions. In 2014, these rooms held an exhibition of David Palacin photographs of the ballet Sorolla produced by the Spanish National Dance Company.

It´s nice to see the actual place where he lived and produced so many of his artworks. There is also a nice entrance garden with a fountain where you can just seat there and make some sketches while admire the flowers and statues.

Don´t forget to visit this small museum if you have a chance on your next trip to Madrid. You won´t regret it!!

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Srapallo, Calle Hortaleza, watercolor, Madrid, 2018

St Valentine’s Day in Spain

It’s not a traditional holiday in Spain, but most of the places in the world celebrate it with the traditional bouquet of flowers and romantic diners. the closest concept about it is from people of Valencia and their most romantic day of the year is, in fact, October 9th, when they celebrate both; the Day of the Valencian Community (Sant Valentin) as well as the Day of Saint Dionysius (Sant Dionís), locally known as the patron saint of lovers. This is a public holiday marked by many festivities and colorful costume parades held in the main plaza of every town and village.

A distinctive tradition on the Day of Saint Dionysius is the custom of offering ladies a Mocadora (Mocaorà) as a sign of love and appreciation. This traditional gift consists of a nice package of marzipan figurines handcrafted by local confectioners and then wrapped up in an elegant piece of silk.

In the Land of Cervantes, you don’t need a reason to get caught up in the fire and romance of Spain. The whole country is teeming with spectacular parks and gardens that inspire love.

Here is the recipe.

INGREDIENTS
150 grams of ground almonds
135 grams of sugar glass
1 egg white
30 grams of mashed potato
Pastry dyes and flavor extract of each fruit. Cocoa powder
If you have too much thickened water
Some pine nuts to decorate

Start boling a potato and make a very fine mashed potato. Set it apart to use later. Beat the egg white to the point of very compact snow. Until the container is turned over, it stays well attached and does not fall. Add the icing sugar and mix well taking into account that the point does not get off. Add the mashed potato and almond flour and knead well. Distribute the dough in as many portions as we want to make different figurines and add to each portion the fruit dye, the flavor extract and let it rest for a while before making them. Take the dough and mold with the fingers the desired figures. Place in a tray and let dry a few hours and if you want to follow the tradition, wrap them in a neck scarf and give them away. If you have more dyes and flavor extracts, you can make pears, lemons, oranges, strawberries … Go on, you are totally allowed to just play with them and make fruits for the ones you love!

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SRapallo, IPAD drawing, Hiking, Madrid, 2017

Santiago de Compostela (El camino) or The Way of St. James

This is my first blog in 2018. My last one was in June 2017. I had my personal journey fighting against cervical cancer last year and I had no energy whatsoever to post anything. Well, I’m still here! But after surgery in July and the beginning of chemo at the end of August, I’ve manage to travel to  Galícia and visited the city of Santiago de Compostela and the surroudings cities, Muxia, Ézaro, Carnota, Corcubión, Muros, Noia and also Finisterre, the last post of pilgrimage. I confess I didn’t do the whole “camino” but, you know, due to the circumstance at that particular moment of my life, I was happy just being there and somehow feeling blessed. Spain is a wonderful country to travel, full of history, wonderful food and spectacular wineries. It’s an energetic country to feel alive and enjoy living!! Something like “La Fiesta” therapy.

I love traveling by car. From Madrid to Santiago de Compostela is like 5.2 hours driving and the sightseeing change completely from the arid weather in Castilla La Mancha to a humid and ultra green meadows in Galicia. And I love eating fresh products from local producers. I specially recommend “O Graneiro de Amelia” (www.ograneirodeamelia.gal) where you can buy grains, species, dry nuts, teas and herbs. The colors, the smell of species and honey…. indescribable!!! And don’t forget to eat the Almond Tart, also a local food tradition.

There are eight main Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain:

Camino Frances – the busiest route.
Via de la Plata – the longest Camino.
Camino del Norte – along the sea.
Camino Ingles The English Road – the shortest Camino.
Camino Portugues, (finishes in Santiago de Compostela but starts in Portugal).
Camino Primitivo. the original one.

Even if you don’t do the Camino, visit the city, the Cathedral and also Santa Maria la Real de Sar, a medieval church from XVI Century. From the cathedral’s balcony you can contemplate the beauty of the roofs and the city’s skyline. Unfortunately the frontal cathedral’s facade (The Obradoiro) is being restored and only will be re-opening on 2023. Well, I’ll have to come back somehow!

The Way of St. James (El Camino) was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sancti Iacobi, “Saint James”.)

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago.

Most pilgrims carry a document called the credencial, purchased for a few euros from a Spanish tourist agency, a church or parish house on the route, a refugio, their church back home, or outside of Spain through the national St. James organization of that country. The credencial is a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation in refugios along the trail. Also known as the “pilgrim’s passport”, the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, and serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).

The “Way of St James” is marked by a scallop shell, a symbol of humility that also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl. The pilgrim’s staff is a walking stick used by pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

Most often the stamp can be obtained in the refugio, cathedral, or local church. If the church is closed, the town hall or office of tourism can provide a stamp, as can nearby youth hostels or private St. James addresses. Many of the small restaurants and cafes along the Camino also provide stamps. Outside Spain, the stamp can be associated with something of a ceremony, where the stamper and the pilgrim can share information. As the pilgrimage approaches Santiago, many of the stamps in small towns are self-service due to the greater number of pilgrims, while in the larger towns there are several options to obtain the stamp.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago_de_Compostela

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