I just wanted to post nice things today and I certainly find these journals most beautiful — well, they are discreet and sober. I received them yesterday by mail and now I just have to wait for someone to install a Christmas tree at home so that I can put them below it :)
My father is fine and we are very pleased by the support we receive from everyone. I send you a big thank you for your thoughtful and kind comments on my previous post, they are priceless.
A few days ago I told you that my father entered the hospital for some tests. It's been a two week wait and finally he was diagnosed with liver cancer, a very localized one and at its earliest stages. He will begin chemotherapy treatment today. Doctors say it could be worst and give us hope. It is as if a century had passed since three doctors gave us the news. We've passed through a stage of fright, but my father is in good spirits and has not lost his sense of humour.
For the moment, all we know for sure is that the treatment will be long. I'm posting two pics taken around the farm where my father worked years ago, to wish him all the best in his first day of treatment, he loves that place. Moreover, these shots help me write this post, which I'd like to be as normal as possible —that is to say, as insubstantial as almost all my posts :). Note that in my attempt to photograph the smoke over the landscape I needed two shots.
Earlier this week, at a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, castells have been declared by UNESCO one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, among other cultural expressions (such as the Mediterranean diet). This promo video explains it all about this Catalan tradition — however, it should be stressed that castellers do not do this for money! You can skip the explanation and go directly to the min. 8.35 to get an idea of what happens in a crowded square while one of the castells is being (successfully?) built.
Photo taken by me last weekend. Any of you know which plant is it? I should know it because it's in my family's garden, but I'm not good at remembering plant names, not even in Catalan. Click on the image to see it at full width. (And maybe visit some actual Wordless Wednesdays participants?)
Yesterday my father and I went for a walk, taking advantage that he was given permission by doctors to leave the hospital during the weekend. We checked the farm, the garden, and the few trees still bearing fruit at this time of the year, like the persimmon. I'm glad I took the camera with me (although my father found it a bit odd: "Picturing reeds and persimmons? I thought it was me who needed a doctor").
It's been a tough week. Ten days ago my father was admitted to hospital (something related to the liver, the doctors said yesterday it's nothing serious but they are still analyzing the results of the biopsy). Fortunately, he can spend the weekend at home. Today, I devoted a bit of time to one of my hobbies, that is, I fear, to buy notebooks online (the ones on the images). I've bought so many that I have solved my Christmas shopping this year. Our health care system offers universal free coverage and we only have to pay if we need prescription drugs (40%), which was not the case of my father. This explains my compulsive shopping! It's a kind of reward.
I have quite neglected my other hobby, blogging, but I promise I'll catch up visiting your blogs and stop buying notebooks. :)
Ratzinger visited Barcelona today to consecrate the basilica of La Sagrada Família, the masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudí. Its construction started in 1883 and it isn't finished yet — I know a man working there as chief stonecutter and I can assure you he is not worried about losing his job in the coming decades, there is still a lot of work to do. From today the main part of the cathedral can be used for public worship, while builders continue raising towers, installing stained glasses, and molding statues of the facades. The following photos were released today by the Spanish newspaper El País.
The Pope symbolically opens the main door to La Sagrada Família. Someone opens it manually on his behalf.
Already inside, a view of the central altar. The columns are like palm trees, while the ceiling resembles a forest. Everything in La Sagrada Família is inspired on nature. Here you can see many windows yet to be decored with stained glasses. All designs related to this temple are fiendishly complicated and expensive.
Gay kissing flashmob in front of the Popemobile in the streets of Barcelona. Given that the basilica is dedicated to the Holy Family, the Pope reminded us his well known views on the "conventional" family. I'm proud of these guys who gave their own opinion just based on love.
Back to the basilica: speech in front of the façana del Naixement — facade of Birth, the first one to be build and the only one that Antoni Gaudí could see completed. The architect died in 1926 and since then many others continued his work.
I hope you liked the Sagrada Família. As regards the Pope, he made some of his speeches in Catalan, which means that we administered absolution to him. Only valid for a few hours.
I made some changes on my blog's template today and I thought it would be right to update my online nickname too. From now on, instead of fullet I'll be Josep, which is my real name. It will make things simpler, some of you already know my name, and besides, for me there's no need to use a false blogging name, because Josep sounds as opaque as fullet for any visitor. I started using this nickname, an abbreviation of fulletonista (which means serials writer), when I created a blog named El Fulletonista that lasted less than a week. It was a brief serial!
This leads me to the story told in Todos os nomes (All the Names), a novel by Portuguese writer JOSÉ SARAMAGO that I plan to read soon. I'll tell you what I know about it: its protagonist, Senhor Jose, serves as a clerk in a Central Registry in an unnamed city. All the names of the inhabitants, living and dead, are cataloged in this massive registry. Senhor Jose, timid and lonesome, begins to search the Central Registry for famous people. The collection serves as a diversion for him, but blossoms into an obsession when the record card of an unknown woman becomes stuck to a more famous person's card.
The Registry itself belies the notion that all human knowledge and experience could be quantified, or catalogued inside a Central Registry by a few simple events, such as birth or marriage. It turns out that Senhor Jose becomes more and more adventurous and willful as the story grows. He commits robbery, forgery, and various misdemeanors in an attempt to discover the unknown woman's identity, "a woman whose dead name returned to the living world because Senhor Jose went to rescue her from the dead world, just her name, not her, a clerk can only do so much".
I think I'll learn some things about personal identity with this book. As John Banville states in his review of All the Names, referring to real and false names, "Vagueness may be fashionable, but clarity is timeless". Well this quote sounds pompous but you know what I mean: I'm just Josep.