"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Memories: Then and Now

me and my brothers Christmas past

Driving in the car this morning, Moises shared his regrets for not making it out last night. He had a fever and was in bed by nine. But we went this morning and had a Christmas breakfast with his mom and sister and family. It was lovely. Daisy, my sister-in-law, lovingly prepared the turkey (pavo) and pork (pierna), both totally delicious. We bought the French bread to make sandwiches and grabbed some bags of chips at Bodega Aurrera. We ate a four course breakfast with family, and that is what Moises said too as we drove home, that Christmas is about family. Thinking about it, Christmas is about family and friends who have become like family.

Christmas at 18 months

So I would like to share my Christmas memories with you, my blog readers. In my mind, like snapshots, I think of Christmases past. I remember that my dad liked pork roast on Christmas, not the ham that my grandmother prepared. Christmas was crowded around the antique table for fourteen in my grandma’s little dining room, with the oversized chairs that came from Uncle Joe, my grandmother’s uncle. I remember Uncle Joe’s huge ears and the way his house smelled, like moth balls and faded memories. I remember how my grandma always invited strangers who had nowhere else to go, and my father didn’t like that either, grumbling about why he had to spend Christmas with somebody he didn’t know. Grandma invited them anyway, the widow from down the street, a distant cousin we barely knew. The scents of my grandma’s stuffing, her spaghetti with cheese and the turkey my aunt brought from her house. The cookies and the hugs and all the laughter. I also remember my parents in true Mad Men style, they drank cocktails while Uncle Rich chain smoked cigarettes. I miss those Christmases, but all those relatives are now gone to Heaven, never to be played out again. My mom, dad, grandparents, Uncles Rich and Ron, my mom’s sister Peg. I can hear you playing the piano and singing Christmas carols still, Aunt Peggy.

Left are my cousins and Uncle Bud in Ohio, my brother in Tampa, my nieces scattered in England and California, so far away for the holidays. Mom, I will never forget how you decorated the day after Thanksgiving, the hundreds of ornaments and figurines you had, the way you loved Christmas. I remember after Mike (my brother) died, Christmas was never the same. My dad cried every year, but you didn’t, Mommy. Even when the Huntington’s disease left you unable to walk or eat properly, you still loved Christmas … and your family. You never forgot me like your sister did when she got sick.

me on the left and cousin Denise on the right

So we missed the big celebration last night, but it is now Christmas Day. So filled with promises and hope, and I truly love the way my husband’s family, a true Yucatecan family, never holds grudges or resentments. We didn’t go last night, but we were welcomed this morning. And I realize something; this is my fourteenth Christmas in Cozumel. So now I have a whole new list of Christmas memories … our first Christmas here when our house was new and our dogs just arrived from the states, the year the rains came so strong we could barely drive down 30th Avenue to get to Daisy’s house, the year my husband went to Merida for the holidays (2011), and I celebrated both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with good friends. But we swore we will never be apart again as long as we can be together, and Moises said that too, that he did spend Christmas with his family last night, me.

I remember every year on Cozumel Island as a year having a whole new family to love and care for. I do regret not being able to stop at a friend’s Open House last night or seeing the baby at her first Christmas,  but there will always be next year, and my continuing new Christmas memories of Cozumel.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Girona Part 2: Cathedral and Gargoyle Sentiments

Pigeon homes at Girona Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary of Girona has some superb architectural features. The pigeons who live there agree. According to wikipedia, St. Mary of Girona was started in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, and later continued in the 13th century in the Gothic style. More great information on this great Cathedral can be found here on wikipedia. I always love the fascinating story of all the European Churches and Cathedrals.

Another pigeon home at Girona Cathedral
It is definitely a place where gargoyle-sentiment abounds. Note the following architectural details.

It is also a spiritual place. The aura is quite lovely!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Girona Part I

Girona from the bridge
I had anticipated my trip to Girona and Figueres for months before I went in April of this year, 2013. It has taken me all these months to actually want to sit down and write about it. I prefer to find the positive about a place, and so I waited until I could find something interesting and unique about Girona. In reality, now that I review the photos, it really is an amazing place. But the day I took the tour from Barcelona, it was raining and cold. Photos show Girona off better than how it looked on this dreary day. I saw all the crumbling and uncared for buildings, that I may not have seen on a sunny day. The first thing we all did when we arrived was buy umbrellas from the tourist office.

Young woman from our tour of Girona

Our rain-soaked tour group at Girona

It rained off and on throughout the tour. The highlight of Girona is the Jewish quarter and the Cathedral. Our guide never took us through the Jewish quarter that I know of. He instead walked us by the Cathedral and through a labyrinth of streets and then left us on our own to find our way back. That was especially nerve-wracking for me, as I was traveling alone and don't have a good sense of direction. I also was approached by a stranger and that was disconcerting. A very nice young student walked me back to where I needed to meet the bus, after I told her he was following me.

Girona Cathedral stairway

The Girona Cathedral was really beautiful. I didn't see it all, as there was an additional charge for the rest of the tour inside and for some reason, I decided not to continue. It escapes me now why I didn't continue the tour. But the outside of the Cathedral was really impressive. I loved all the architectural details and will do a few more posts on this wonderful structure.

Architectural details of the Cathedral at Girona