Tag: Palm Trees in the Snow by Luz Gabas

Book Review of Palm Trees in the Snow, by Luz Gabas

I read this book as part of the 2017 European Reading Challenge.

Palm Trees in the Snow*, by Luz Gabas, Translated by Noel Hughes
 

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 
Palm Trees in the Snow is set in two time periods, the 1950s -1960s and 2003.  The men of the Rabaltue family (father Anton, brothers Kilian and Jacobo) leave their home in the snowy mountains of Spain in the 1950s and travel to Fernando Po, an island in equatorial Africa, to work on the cocoa plantations.  The stories they bring home are vibrant and entertaining, but in 2003 Clarence, the daughter of Jacobo, discovers a portion of a letter that leads her on a quest to discover the true story of Kilian and Jacobo’s stay in Fernando Po.  Her journey and the discoveries she makes will change the family forever.

I really liked this book.  I learned about life in the Pyrennes mountains of Spain and the changes that occurred in that area with the advent of ski resorts in the 1980s and 90s.  I also learned about Fernando Po, an island today called Bioko that is part of Equatorial Guinea.  Palm Trees in the Snow goes into great detail about the cocoa production on the plantations of Fernando Po in the 1950s, when it was a colony of Spain, and also informs about the growing movement for independence, the treatment of the Bubi, the indigenous population, and life of the colonist.

This novel was originally written in Spanish and is the first novel by Luz Gabas.  For the most part, I liked the way it was written, although occasionally I became confused as the voice of the story would change, sometimes within the same paragraph.  I’m not sure if that was the fault of the author or the translation.  Overall, though, this was an interesting and engrossing story of love, loss, tragedy, and at the core, the strength of family bonds.

Weekly Overview 08.07.17

Outside My Window…  sunshine and white fluffy clouds filtered through my Texas Star hibiscus.

I am thinking… about how nice it was to have a phone call from my Mom this morning and a Skype call from Kat & Fiona this afternoon.

I am thankful for… the availability of so much beautiful Celtic music via the Internet.

I am hoping…  the a/c installation into the garage tomorrow goes smoothly.  Sounds like a repeat from last week, doesn’t it?  That’s because last week’s scheduled date got moved to this week!

 I am reading…

I am busy creating… plants.  I’m propagating geraniums, or attempting to do so.  Trimmed my peppermint striped geranium this morning and I have six potential plants started.  Keeping my fingers crossed, as I’ve never done geraniums before, nor have I used rooting compound before.

 

 

I am hearing… Celtic music from Seinn, by Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy Macisaac.  I first heard them on the Celtic Music Podcast and liked the piece played so well that I looked on the liner notes to see who and what it was.  Their album is a mixture of fiddling instrumentals and vocals in Gaelic.  They have some samples on their website that I’m listening to and when I make my next mini-weight loss goal, I will be ordering the CD.

 Around the house…  not much is happening, as most of my attention has been outside.  I realized Saturday, when I went hunting for my brochures and maps of things to do and see in Oklahoma, that I need a system to organize such things.  I always collect brochures and maps wherever I go, and then they get thrown in a pile when I get home.  I’m thinking of those cloth bins that I can shove onto a shelf…but that would mean I need open and available shelves.  The other option is a plastic tote with hanging folders inside.  I’ll have to decide upon something soon, as right now there’s piles on a couple of different tables and if I don’t deal with them, they’ll be there for weeks, maybe even months!

Around the garden… spider mites and mealy bugs to be dealt with on outside and inside plants. This morning I sprayed tomatoes and other plants outside with Neem oil.  And I will be spending Wednesday launching an all-out attack on my inside African violets – wiping down with alcohol to remove mealy bugs, then spraying with Neem oil and rinsing with water, and repotting in new soil mixed with diatomaceous earth.  It’s time to get serious!

In other news…  I’m still using webmail, which sucks.  Bill is still working on getting our mail server system back in shape.  From what I can figure, it’s got more to do with the actual program than the system, something about overloading the backup or archival to the point where it just quit.  I sure hope this doesn’t last forever, as I really miss Outlook mail (I never thought I’d say that!).

One of my favorite things…  day trips to new places.  Here’s a picture from the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma, which we visited Saturday.

 

 

Our Weekly Overview… 

Karen:  No Master Gardener meetings this week.  A/C contractor(s) here on Tuesday morning to set up the mini-split unit in the garage and also (hopefully) do an air flow test in the house to remediate some residual issues from the house system that was installed in April.  The rest of the week will be ongoing focus on paperwork and accounts and Quicken.

Bill: Bill will be working from home every day this week except Wednesday (which means I have the house to myself for a whole day!!!).

David: David works every day this week, except for Thursday and Friday.  He’ll be ready for a break, as he’ll be ending a seven day work week, covering for others on vacation.

 

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing …  

Weekly Overview 08.02.17

Outside My Window… the skies are cloudy, which is actually nice.  We’ve had a stretch of really hot dry weather, so a cooler, drizzly day is a nice change.  This cooler weather today (and I think tomorrow) will enable my newly planted coleus, impatiens, and coral bells get a good start.

I am thinking… that I will skip watering outside plants today!  I just went around and stuck a few buckets and containers at the end of our gutter downspouts, as we don’t have rain barrels yet.  Any water collected will be that much I don’t have to pay for.  Plus, if it does rain a good bit, we don’t need the ground washed out where the downspouts are pointed.  I can also now plant seeds in the flower bed right outside my office window without fear that they will be washed away when the rain comes pouring off the roof in that corner.  I planted 3 packets of mixed cut flower seeds and wildflower seeds there earlier this year and only one lone zinnia survived the rains and subsequent flooding.  I can also now begin planning what I want in that bed long term.  First thing will be moving the Texas Star hibiscus to the back of the bed – I had it there when I first planted it last year and the rain water from the roof dumped right down on it.  So, the  hibiscus will be moved and then I can plant some perennials in the front of the bed and decide if I want to leave the Indian Hawthorne bush that is already there on the north side of the bed.

I am thankful for… a good night’s sleep with no interruptions.  The previous night Copper went outside in the evening and was no where to be found when it was bedtime.  At 4:40 a.m., though, she was having a disagreement with another cat in the yard and I had to get up and let her back in.  By the time I got back to bed, I was fairly awake and did not fall back to sleep until shortly before the alarm went off at 6:20 a.m.

I am hoping…  the garage door installations this morning goes smoothly.  This is the next to the last item needing repairs or replacement due to the hailstorm in late March.  After today, we only have to submit to the insurance company the estimates from the fencing company and then, depending upon what the insurance company pays for, get fences repaired or replaced.  My bet is that the insurance company is only going to pay for power washing and sealing, rather than replacement, in which case we’ll be hanging on to the money and getting the fence replaced, either by ourselves or hiring someone.

I am reading…

  • Seven Stones To Stand Or Fall by Diana Gabaldon (for fun)
  • Palm Trees in the Snow by Luz Gabas (for the 2017 European Reading Challenge)

I am busy creating… I’m still sporadically working on the cat design table runner filet crochet project and I still have the blue Santa counted cross stitch project on the hoop to pick back up.  My brain is still full of gardens and plants and propagation and contractors making house repairs and I am not crocheting much at all.  Speaking of propagation – which is a type of creating – I have several African violet plants started, along with some coleus.  I want to cut some geranium slips and get them started, but all online information seems to indicate rooting them in dirt is the preferred method, and I do not have any rooting hormone nor starter soil.  I’d like to root them in water (my preferred method), but I’m not sure how effective that will be.  I maybe do both, just to see for future knowledge.

 

 

I am hearing… a short video done by Michael Greger M.D. titled Four Nuts Once A Month.  Four Brazil nuts taken once a month can lower LDL cholesterol levels faster than statin drugs.  It’s going to look strange when I go in to where I buy bulk raw nuts and buy only four Brazil nuts!

Around the house & garden… I’m slowly whittling down the pile of items in the dining room to sell or give away.  I need to keep at it, as it’s rather a large pile.  Many items are computer oriented and for those I will need Bill to test the item or tell me why we’re getting rid of it and then provide a description.  I can sell bikes and kitchen appliances just fine – computer items, not so much.

In other news…  I’ve begun using a weekly meal calendar recommended by a friend – I fill it out Sunday with the meals I’m going to eat the coming week.  The hope is twofold:  1) I’ll try some new recipes in the multitude of cookbooks I have and 2) I’ll eat only what’s on the menu and not snacks and extras.  So far, after two full days using it, it’s been successful.  That’s a pretty short duration, though, so time will tell if I keep it up.

One of my favorite things…  flowers in my yard and freshly picked mint for my morning smoothie.

Our Weekly Overview… 

Karen:  I have no Master Gardener meetings this week.  My week revolves around yard/garden care, dealing with contractors here, and continuing the office disaster clean-up effort.  Wednesday the new garage door is slated to be installed and Thursday morning the crew will come to install the mini-split a/c unit in the garage.  While here, the a/c crew will also attempt to address the uneven air temperature in the house from the new system install in April – nothing serious, just a couple of rooms that seem to have really warm air coming out when the unit first kicks on and also the puzzling issue of the two units having very different air temperatures coming out the vents when they are both set for the exact same temperature.  I was hoping for an extremely hot day when they came out, as the issue is more pronounced then, but we’ll see how Thursday goes.  Also dealing with a tree that needs removing from my dad’s estate in Alabama, and other estate issue.  It is a full week.

Bill: Bill is slated to be home all week, working for various clients.  At this point it doesn’t appear like he will have any weekend work, which will be nice.  He is enjoying working from home and being able to swim in the pool every evening after supper.  When he has to drive to a client site, by the time he gets home through the horrible traffic, it’s often too late to do anything in the evening other than eat supper and go to bed.

David: August 1 is the beginning date for the new company taking over where David works.  David did take the job offer they gave him, after they accepted his counter offer of doing some of the IT work in addition to his regular Team Lead work.  And some of that IT work started on Tuesday, rather than the predicted mid-August time frame, which was a good sign that the new company means to follow through on their promises.  David is hoping this will provide him the opportunity to segue into the IT world, getting some real on-the-job experience and also some mentoring by the existing IT person.

Here some picture thoughts I am sharing

a short video of a butterfly on my zinnias!  I am really enjoying my bed of zinnias and will be planting more of them next year.

Well, I thought this was going to be a video.  I couldn’t upload the whole video (too big), so I intended to trim the video.  It appears like I have a single snapshot instead.  I will keep working on this and try to bring you the trimmed video in a subsequent post.  It’s really cool, I promise!  But the single shot is nice also.