Here I go...

Walking and Talking Across Spain - long distance walking chelates the chemicals that trigger my Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Face Sucking Boxes

Walkin in the garden of the old Jewish quarter of Astorga today, found a nice sweet-smellin rose bed.

Weather has been fine.

We have a great hotel but the wifi is spotty.  
Lots of smart phones and bowing heads.  

Generations from now when the smart phones have been obsolete for years
-- the experts will say that in the old days each person believed 
the Code-Writers could capture God in a plastic box 
and that all people spent up to 10 hours a day gazing at the box in worship.  
That it was a golden age when humans worshiped God 
with a pious devotion never heard of before.  
But there was really nothing in the box.

Photos from

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Adiós a la Hermosa Navarra

Lesley Robinson from down under with our host at Casa de la Abuela, Iosu.

We have learned from a little practice that after 8 straight days of walking over Pyrenees, Altos de Mezquiriz, de Erro, del Perdon and other lesser bumps along The Way-- some level of exhaustion is to be expected.

After an arrival to Viana or Logrono and the border of La Rioja, we have nick-named this day, The Day of Hitting the Wall.

The energy and exuberance of initiating our pilgrimage in France has been used up a little just getting as far as we have. There is a need to rest and recover a bit; to reflect on the the better ways we have learned from forgetting and leaving behind socks, jackets, walking sticks and hopefully some of our habitual anxieties. And in the process, finding acceptable solutions through our own resourcefulness and good fortune.

Viana is a perfect place to do some R & R. A compact, friendly and homey ciudad where all the residents know each other by name and one is not judged at all for leaving their apartment unshaven and in slippers to share a coffee and news of the day at the bar round the corner.

It is a good time and place for the wandering pilgrim to celebrate their accomplishment and to look forward to the respite of busing for 3 days to visit the monuments of Burgos, Leon and Astorga.

Alas, we must also leave behind the Camino friends made over the first 8 days-- for we will cover 5 stages in less than 2 hours. Los Otros will therefore be 5 days behind.

It is common for pilgrims to begin the journey with friends or companions from home. Also common is the experience of finding that sometimes the new people met on The Way for the first time add greatly to our understanding of what it is to be a pilgrim, perhaps even more so than those who crossed the ocean with us in the beginning.

In Viana, if you strike up an acquaintance with a native, soon you be impressed with how fast you might be accepted as an amigo by many other residents. Remember, it is a town where everyone knows their fellow residents very well. In this sense we are also stimulants to the curiosity of locals.

A pilgrim from another land has some attraction to locals as an exotic "gente" with a view of the world wider than what is ordinary to the place. Wearing a sonrisa as you hobble the unfamiliar streets is a trusty lure to capture the kind attention of the native who knows at first glance that you are just visiting. Soon perhaps you will be party to their conversation with the brothers, cousins, friends, wives and husbands who gravitate to the one native you first met.

One pilgrim spoke with a local man and before long the pilgrim with pigeon Espanol, began to understand the meanings of their new acquaintances' unfamiliar words without trying to mentally translate into English. This pilgrim said suddenly they were beginning to think in Spanish and not in English.

I was told it was quite liberating, that even though the pilgrim did not understand every word or phrase, they nevertheless arrived at a clear sense of the feelings and information being conveyed. It was said to be much easier than trying to mentally translate the muy rapido Espanol into Ingles.

Well, we know from experience that this does not happen in every ciudad or Pueblo, nor does it happen for every pilgrim. But we do know that this and other similar benefits are very likely to happen in Viana if one brings with them sonrisas along with their dolores and necessitos. Maybe this is because the people in Viana believe in living a good life simply, and they recognize another who believes the same by what that other wears on their face as they explore the sights, sounds and aromas of the city on the hill. It is possible.
Toxic berries of a local plant. Can anyone identify?

Our host in Viana at Los Apartamentos Borgia, Jose Julio,
drawing water from the pozo in his huerta
Fruits of Jose Julio's huerta that he picked and gave us.
Notice the grapes went fast!
La Virgen de Nieva - Viana Cathedral

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Club Meson al Fuera de Jefe Pepe by Joe

Book your Visit to Club Meson al Fuera de Jefe Pepe Here

We love visiting Estella because of the many superb monuments, vibrant historical significance, its hospitality and its centuries old renown for good meat, fish, water and wine.  Rest assured, what was true then is still true today.

And now we find in the same tradition Apartments Jurramendi, a fairly new must-stay in Estella.  Owners Christina and Joaquin have provided perfectly clean and well-equipped 2 bedroom apartments to make your visit comfortable and complete.

The  apartments are located in the shadow of the exceptional Plaza de Los Fueros where you will find delectable regional cuisine as well as the1950's styled hamburger palace simply called The Diner.

We at Anniewalkers relish the comidas found in the Plaza, but we also realize that some pilgrims long for a chance to do some home-cooking of their own away from home.  Apartementos Jurramendi provides all the equipment to do so, and the many supermercados of Estella offer a huge variety of the needed ingredients.

You can cook a treat of bacon and eggs for dinner with enough left over for the next day.  One pilgrim I know did just that.

We have one more very special dining location to mention as well.  About 14 kilometers outside of Estella on The Way to Los Arcos (one more of our favorite locations, the home of Iosu & Sara's Casa de la Abuela) is the hard-to-find but fantastic Club Meson al Fuera de Jefe Pepe.  The Club Meson is located on a hill along the Camino just past the Bar 2km, a popular and portable waystop whose proprietor is well known for keeping a close eye on the behavior of its patrons, and whom some have compared to Seinfeld's Soup Nazi.

The Al Fuera de Jefe Pepe by contrast has only 2 rules:. First you must bring your own comidas (meals)and Second, you must pack out your own basura ( garbage). What makes the Club Meson impossible to pass up is its location and stunning vistas, the fact that seating is always possible without the need of reservation and that all this is provided free and gratis.

The photos attached will suffice to confirm what mere words can never adequately describe.  It should be noted that while tongue-in-cheek can be found at Club Meson de Jefe Pepe, it must be pre-ordered via the good offices of the fine people of Anniewalkers Caminos USA.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Post From Joe

A post from Joe, who was in Puente la Reina yesterday, and is on Camino with 8 pilgrims:

To Pregunta or not to Pregunta

For us English-only speakers it is challenging to perform even the simplest things we take for granted in our homelands. We pilgrims come to a romantic land filled with ancient monuments as well as novel technological innovations that can serve to connect us to the our loved ones back home but also tend to direct our attention away from "where we are in the moment."

Take a seat anywhere along the Way, and you will see table after table of persons not speaking to each other, but instead heads down and eyes focused on smart phones and tablets communicating with people who are not there.

In English we can express ourselves at a level that displays intelligence, sophistication and wonder. But with only a handful of phrases in Spanish, French or other tongues, we feel perhaps isolated and inadequate in comparison to the natives who navigate the waters of communication with profundity and musical elegance. It is natural to shrink into the background to avoid seeming less brilliant than we actually are. Our experience is thus diminished thru our own choice.

But in casting aside timidity and attempting to speak with an unfamiliar tongue we can provide ourselves with valuable data to crack the secrets of the Camino and bring smiles to the natives who enjoy our halting efforts to meet them on their own terms.

For example, here is a photo of a habitaccion keypad at Albergue Jakue in Puente La Reina. You slide the magnetic card thru the pad and the door to your bed and shower is unlocked. In theory.

You slide and slide but nothing happens. Many others pass you in the hall happily on their way to tapas, cerveza con limon, and other delights. Finally you try to turn the key-card in a different direction and sure enough you hear the click of the door latch opening. Que milagro!

You push the door but nothing happens. What the!!
Finally frustration and exhaustion move you to turn to the next person you see and ask, "ayuda me."

In return you get a smile and a one word answer:. "Mira"-- your redeemer of the moment pulls gently on the door knob, and then easily pushes the door wide open. First you must pull, then you must push.

But how would you know this without first the Pregunta?

Here at Jakue last year we many pilgrims spent hours and euros trying to use the computers in the sala. But Nada. This year we ask if the computers are working first before feeding them with coins.

The question brings an engaging light to the face of the hospitalero. Yes, the computer are muy malo. So this year one need only ask at the reception desk and a tablet is provided for your use free of charge. Perfecto. Now we can get online to share stories of our adventure in the land of castles and ampollas. But only after the Pregunta.

There is risk in leaving behind our comfort zones. There is risk in mangling an unfamiliar language. But in risking the question, we may find the holy grail of a cooling shower and a refreshing descanso. And much more. One other Pregunta led to us learning that next year there will be a new hot tub in the beer garden!

Friday, September 23, 2016


While Joe's away on Camino, I'm finally recovered enough from my bad fall to do a little artwork.

I've been working on repainting a sweet little Bratz doll I've named Jolene.

I finished her today. I dressed her in a hand-crocheted dress with black leggings and boots. I did her hair in a loose double-twisted style.  I think she turned out real cute!

Before and After. What a difference!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Autumn Group is on the Camino!

While I'm recuperating at home, Joe just informed me that his Autumn Group of Pilgrims have assembled and are on their way!  He has a wonderful group of folks this year, and all are anxious to test their stamina and see Spain!

Left to right:. Sandy, Barbara, Anne, Debbie, Lesley, Mary and Doug.

I understand things got off to an interesting start 
when the shuttle arrived early in Orisson.  
Welcome to the Camino! 
It throws you curve balls from the start, 
and remember, we warned you?
 Those who have walked the Camino are chuckling right now, 
as they know what you're going through.

Apparently, the Camino has gotten so busy this year, that Carolyn has hired help to run several shuttles, and they're still not quite organized.  This can make for some discomfort to Americans, especially, who are used to schedules.  In France and Spain, if you are invited to a party at 7 pm and you arrive at 9 pm, well, at least you've arrived, and nobody's feathers are fluffed. 

So my advice is to just roll with the punches and as I've always said, have absolutely NO expectations.  Just enjoy the ride!

I understand the walk over the Pyrenees was cool and windy. That's good for the group, as the week before people were falling over with heat stroke. Here is Sandy at Roland's Fountain, taking a much deserved rest. It looks wet and chilly to me. Great walking weather!

Today the group is in Zubiri. Tomorrow the easy walk to Pamplona and back to familiar digs. 

A good place to dump all that extra weight!  You can post it to Santiago and it will be waiting for you there!

Buen Camino, Peregrinos!
Stay in touch!

By the way, the new dates are up for 2017 if you know anyone who is interested in walking.  The Spring walk is FULL if everyone who has inquired signs up. In that case, we may have a second group.  We are considering an Autumn Group, but will wait to see if there is interest.  I am 99% sure I will not walk this year, but you know me, I may change my mind once I'm feeling better. If I do not walk, my neighbor has expressed interest in leading a group. She walked the entire route last year, so is experienced and toying with the idea. 

Stay tuned . . . 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hayden's Doll

Yesterday was a special day because I was visited by a special girl!

I have two granddaughters, and both enjoy painting dolls with me. 

Hayden is 8 years old and she loves the arts! She can knit and is learning to play the piano. The lady next door to her has a kiln and has taught Hayden to slump glass. This summer she took a pottery class. She also loves to cook. 

Yesterday, Hayden visited for the day and she painted this beautiful doll! 
She asked me if she could sell it
and I thought, "Why not!?"

The doll is really as good as most dolls on Etsy, 
and so we will list it for $39. 
When it sells, Hayden will get $30 
and I'll keep $9 for materials and listing fees. 

The face was completely painted by Hayden.
The hair was braided by her.
She made the sweater - Grandma cut it out.
The pants and boots are regular Bratz pants/boots.
I embroidered the flower on the front of the sweater 
and tidied up her stitches a bit, 
but Hayden did most of the work herself.

The doll is really a beauty with gorgeous green eyes
and a soft, sweet expression.

Hayden has named the doll Makayla.

I strongly believe in teaching children to work and earn their own money.
Teaching a child to be self-sufficient, 
to me, 
is one of the greatest gifts a parent or grandparent can give.

I think Hayden is well on her way to a career in the Arts;
perhaps she will paint portraits,
or be the curator at a museum.
And that makes me very happy!

If you are interested in Hayden's doll, Makayla,
you can find it in my FreckleFarm Dolls shop:

Here are a few more photos of Hayden
so you can see her cute personality.
She's a kick!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Back to the Desert!

Well, life just has a way of throwing curve balls, doesn't it?

Just about the time I was settling in, my son got notice that the house next door they wanted to rent was $2750 per month!


How in the world do people pay that? That's 3 times my monthly income!

Anyway, I decided to move down to the desert for one year and let my son and his partner have my room. This way they can save $2000 each month and by the end of the year have a chunk of change for a down payment.

I had been toying with spending a full year in the desert, so I guess this should satisfy that whim!


my new art studio will become his office for a year 
and I'll be packing up and heading south the first of November.

I do love the desert. 
I love getting up at 4 am and watching the sun rise over the mountains. 
I love spending time with my new friend and evil twin, Vicki. 
And I love doing water aerobics each day.
I actually love being alone.
And I love having so many nice places to walk. 
And the weather. . . well, I can't complain.

The deal is in exchange for me moving, 
my son will pay my way back to Portland 
a few times during the year to visit. 
He'll also pay my storage fees up here, 
and my moving expenses.  
All that done, it will STILL be a hell of a lot cheaper 
than $2750 per month.

Good Lord!  
No wonder so many people are homeless!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Studio is Finished!

I'm all moved in!

And here is the first new doll I finished.
Her name is Sophia.

I'm happy!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Bottling Laundry Soap

Here is a photo of the laundry soap I bottled up today.
I ended up with around 10 gallons.
There is still some left in the bucket.
Total cost was less than $3 for all this soap.

Materials were Fels Naptha Soap, Borax, and Washing Soda.

Each time I make the soap it takes one bar of Fels Naptha, so I just buy it by the case.  The boxes of borax and washing soda have lasted through three 10 gallon cycles and still are at least a third full.

I'm going to record the date in my bullet journal and see how long it lasts.
One capful per load is plenty.

Also, we put a dehumidifier in the basement yesterday to see if it would make a difference in the smell of the house. This old house was built in 1930 and when I returned from Spain, an "old person" smell hit me in the face when I walked in. I'm hoping the dehumidifier will make a difference.

I just checked it and there's already over half a gallon in the container and it's only been running 4 hours.

Getting the house back in order, minimizing, and working on the studio has been fun, but tiring. I'm looking forward to spending a few days at the beach next weekend with some friends.

Did I tell you we have a neighborhood turkey? She leaves eggs at the neighbors and we share them.  They're much larger than chicken eggs and really rich. We aren't sure where she came from but we're happy she has adopted us!

I love being home!
It's always such an adventure!


Spring Clean Your House in 10 Minutes a Day - Living Room

Here is my list for my living room. 
Remember, your house could be bigger or smaller or have different jobs:

  1. Clean street-facing window #1 inside and clean windowsill top and bottom
  2. Clean street-facing window #2 inside and clean windowsill top and bottom
  3. Clean street facing window #1 outside
  4. Clean street facing window #2 outside
  5. Clean side window #1 as above
  6. Clean side window #2 as above
  7. Clean side window #1 outside
  8. Clean side window #2 outside
  9. Clean baseboards streetside
  10. Clean baseboards house side
  11. Clean baseboards side #1
  12. Clean baseboards side #2
  13. Clean front door inside and out and wipe off top of door
  14. Clean door FRAME - use magic eraser sponges
  15. Clean door frame going into hall
  16. Cobwebs - get them off the ceiling and out of corners
  17. Window Air Conditioner - wipe it down and clean filter
  18. Clean heat register on floor - take off cover and vacuum it out
  19. Clean television 
  20. Clean fireplace mantel and sweep down brick
  21. Clean recliner #1 - vacuum under cushions
  22. Clean recliner #2 - wipe down leather
  23. Clean chair #3 - wipe down leather
  24. Polish dining table 
  25. Polish dining chair #1 and #2
  26. Polish dining chair #3 and #4
  27. Clean light fixture and put bulb covers in dishwasher
  28. Polish piano and bench
  29. Vacuum fireplace screen 
  30. Clean ash out of fireplace
  31. Clean and polish shoe rack
  32. Wash and/or replace front door rug