Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Portugal

Enhanced Words

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Just over a week ago, my brother of a friend, Ian Rowcliffe —a primary inspiration for Cyndie’s and my adventures in creating Wintervale Ranch— shared a link to a video his daughter, Stephanie produced. She deftly incorporated my Words on Images creations (inspired by our stay with them in Portugal) with a delightful piece of music.

Stephanie’s keen artistic senses crafted a spectacular result that is infinitely more than the sum of its parts. The experience of revisiting the piece last week resonated a variety of positive vibrations for me. I hope by watching it, you might discover something of the paradise that Ian and his family have nurtured in their Forest Garden Estate in Portugal.

Their property is a destination to be considered for travelers who share a sense of appreciation to Ian’s and our perspectives on the wonders of the world.

Re-posting the video here feels a little excessively self-aggrandized for me, but this is my blog, after all, so I guess this could be considered a fair use.

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Many Thanks

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DSCN4129eOn this eve of our Thanksgiving holiday, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to you, my readers, for venturing into my world and joining in my adventures and explorations of Somethings occasionally Relative. You may have arrived to view my stories of a Himalayan trek, our visit to Portugal, my annual bike trips, pictures, poetry, Words on Images, or tales of a transition from the suburbs to our Wintervale Ranch paradise. You may be family, friends, coworkers, fellow WordPress bloggers, poets, photographers, wordsmiths, or happenstance searching link-clickers.

You are my audience, and I thank you for your participation, silent or otherwise.

I hope that regular followers have grown familiar with the usual cast of characters that populate the content of late. A certain dog seems to get the most mention. Long ago I began a move toward dropping constant use of orienting descriptions for people and animals that show up in my tales of adventure and woe, hoping that they were becoming established and familiar to readers over time.

We are many chapters into a book that you are reading as it is being written. What will happen next? I can’t make it up. The drama plays out with little concern about how I might be able to narrate it.

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I purchased a replacement GFCI breaker for power to the waterer in the paddock. It failed, too. My “spidey” sense tells me there is leakage current, after all. Removing the access panel on the waterer revealed an incredible amount of moisture present. No wonder. I saw a statistic that we are currently running in 7th place for wettest November on record.

In the previous two years of having that waterer during the winter, we’ve never faced needing to have the heater on when it was so wet.

I’m temporarily bypassing the GFI safety feature to keep the ice off the water source for our horses. Cyndie had a heck of a time breaking off the ice for them yesterday morning, after I tried a night with no power at all.

IMG_iP0964eIt appears the solar-powered battery supplying electricity to our arena fence is successfully keeping the horses from wreaking havoc on the barrier.

I found a picture I had taken with the intent of showing how wet the ground was, and discovered it caught Legacy in the distance, mouthing the fence. Busted!

Don’t forget, you can click on the smaller images to bring up the full-size view for closer inspection.

Our house is already filled with the aroma of traditional holiday feasting fare. Cyndie has been busy cooking and cleaning in preparation of hosting Thanksgiving dinner here tomorrow. Family that are planning to come should consider bringing mud-boots.

The weather shows signs of possible precipitation, in addition to the water already saturating our grounds. I’m hoping we don’t all end up stuck indoors watching parades and football games, and eating way more than we should as a result of more rain. It would be a shame to miss out on walks in our woods, exercising Delilah to tire her out, walking the labyrinth, and visiting the horses.

I’m guessing we won’t let a little rain stop us from getting out for a little bit.

Thank you for reading!

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Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

Last Year

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Last year at this time, Cyndie and I were in Portugal enjoying the Rowcliffe family’s Forest Garden Estate. I have been returning there in my mind, frequently this September, to re-live the incredible experience we enjoyed. There are so many special moments and events that deserve noting, but what is on my mind right now is the glorious fresh juice we had, one time out of peaches, and later out of grapes.

Cyndie captured these images of Ian and me processing some grapes for juice. The taste of those fresh fruit juices remains unrivaled for me.

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Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2011 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Denouement

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Filled with glee, bathed in the brilliance of the setting sun, and steeped in 2-weeks worth of euphoric experiences with Ian Rowcliffe and his family, his friends, and his horses and pets, in the region of Celorico de Basto, Portugal… Our adventure is complete.

Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2010 at 10:02 am

Posted in Portugal Adventure

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Cities In Sight

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In a blink, we were in Porto. Off the farm and into the city. From one paradise to another. Thank you, Rowcliffes!! You are precious to us in so many ways. I wish I could say that the trip from Portugal to Minnesota was a blink. …It was a lot of blinks.

 

Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2010 at 7:00 am

Posted in Portugal Adventure

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Richly Gifted

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Friday, October 1,  continued…

Upon returning from the spring, we decide to pick up where Cyndie and Ian left off the day before with riding and exercising horses. We are interested in seeing if giving them the same routine two days in a row will produce recognizable improvements. Cyndie has brief success riding Doll without Ian leading the way, until Doll catches sight of Ian and me waiting and watching. After that, Doll won’t move, despite Cyndie’s attempts to encourage forward progress. When Ian steps up to lead the way, Doll responds. He even does some running to get her to pick up the pace. With Ian in the lead, they walk Doll out of the dressage area, up the road, past the house and into the pine trees.

Just after Cyndie finishes riding Doll, Carlos drives up to say goodbye. Cyndie fetches his mother’s plates that he had sent us home with after the dinner at his house last week. We are returning them with cookies Cyndie baked as a thank you. Ian brings out the scarf Cyndie knit for him and the book of my “Words on Images” that we gave him when we arrived, to show to Carlos. We are very happy to have the chance to give Carlos a special good-bye, and he wishes us well on our travels.

Next, Cyndie and Ian bring Frida out for a walk on the lead and report noticeable improvement in behavior from the day before. At this point, I wander off and find the sheets have dried in the sun, so I remake the bed and do some sweeping up in the writer’s cottage, while they continue working with Sebastian, and then Lucy.

With the horse activity complete, Cyndie prepares lunch from the week’s leftovers. While the meal is being prepared, Ian emerges from the house with a gift of a painting that has been hanging on his wall.  It is a ship crossing the ocean in a beautiful old wood frame that has metal corners with flowers embossed in them. He talks about how it just seemed something he wanted to give me and that it spoke to him of the things I have talked about, researching my ancestry whom had obviously crossed the sea and possibly in ships like the one depicted. He mentions that he recalled my comments in the past about not being that interested in flowers, yet now I would be taking flowers with me on the picture frame. It seems to me, a perfect gift. I am very moved by his choice. We have our last meal on the porch and enjoy a pleasant visit in the view of Mt. Graça.

With all this fun accomplished, it is time we begin the final process of cleaning the writer’s cottage, showering, and packing our bags. While we are nearing the end of these chores, there is a knock at our door and Ian appears, with Carlos again! He has returned with his niece, and this time, he is bearing send-off gifts. They present us with honey, produced in the region by his niece’s boyfriend’s family and a beautifully gift-wrapped present. Cyndie unwraps it to reveal a glass display case of Our Lady of Fatima that his sister made. These are very precious and generous gestures by this very good friend. It appears that Carlos is one for many ‘good-byes’.

While we finish packing and cleaning, Ian readies the horses, and dogs, and the house, for his absence. I put our bags and my guitar in his car, drop off the internet modem they generously shared with us, return the house key to the kitchen of the main house, and we are ready to leave the farm. Cyndie and I walk through the stables one last time and say our good-byes to the horses. In the car, Cyndie reports that she also said goodbye to the 99 camellias she re-potted.

Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2010 at 7:00 am

Posted in Portugal Adventure

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One Last Morning

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Last full day in Portugal, Friday, October 1…

On the morning of our last day on the farm, we wake to a beautiful sight of glowing rosy-pink, peach-orange clouds above the ridge, just prior to the rising sun. The calm brilliance of the view contrasts with a pressing feeling of needing to prepare for our departure, even though we have much of the day available before setting off for Porto. I strip the bed as soon as I’m out of it and Cyndie puts in the first of several loads of laundry.

We step out into the day and Cyndie feeds the horses grain, before we head up for breakfast. Ian is on his way to clean the stables, so Cyndie joins him for that task. I grab a piece of cheese out of their refrigerator and go back to the writer’s cottage to get some of the bread that Cyndie wanted to throw away the night before. I had talked her out of it, because I liked the heavy bread with the crunchy crust. She wasn’t going to keep it because the loaves didn’t rise.

While Ian is working on horse-related chores, he mentions I should pick out a sequoia tree to plant down at the spring. Back in the corner of the shade house, where I find a tree that appeals to me, I spot the wheel barrow that has a flat tire. I decide to see if I can get the tire off, to check for the source of the problem. First, I need to check the tool room for suitable implements of destruction. Upon successful removal of the wheel, I inspect the tire for any ‘sharps’ that might be caught in the rubber. Finding none, I turn my attention to the inner tube. It still has some air in it, but not enough to satisfy me for testing. After an unsuccessful self-guided search for a pump, I interrupt Ian’s work to ask for his help. After taking his own unrewarded look in the tool room for a manual pump, Ian goes to the car to fetch the 12V compressor. I put in enough air to feel satisfied it is under sufficient pressure, then fill a tub with water for my test. I try, and try, to find any hint of air bubbling from the tube or the valve, but cannot detect any evidence of a leak. I decide to put it back together, without having found, or fixed, a cause for it to lose air.

By the time I am finished with that project, Ian has the car loaded with the sequoia, a watering can, the enxada (hoe/shovel), and a bag of manure. The three of us climb in the car and he drives us down to the new spring. We debate the location for a little while and then settle on the highest spot, just underneath the stump of a long-gone oak tree. Ian reminds me to take pictures throughout the process and when it comes time to set the tree in the hole, he suggests Cyndie take a picture of us. She has a better idea. I set up the camera to use the auto-timer and all three of us pose in the act of planting.

We linger for some time at the spring and Cyndie waters all the new trees we have planted in the past week. I add some water to the old olive tree. Before we leave, I dig out more of the muck that has settled in the pool of the spring and get my gloves absolutely soaked. There are some significant root structures below the surface of the shallow pool, so Ian gets a cutting tool for me to prune them out of the way. When I step back to look, I see that he has hung the watering can on a branch of the willow tree to have it available for future visits to the spring.

This spring garden space will definitely be one of the highlights of our stay.

I can say, emphatically, from the fresh perspective of a month and a half later, “It certainly is!”

Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2010 at 7:00 am

Posted in Portugal Adventure

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