blog Blog 2020

Update Day 16

There are now 87,956 cases up from 80,110 yesterday, with 7,846 fatalities, up from 6,875 yesterday. The virus is yielding, albeit grudgingly, to harsh measures. People fleeing to second homes are being fined and turned back, for example. You must have a certificate to work or you can be fined. Spain is not getting help from the EU which constitutionally can not engage in deficit spending. The Central Bank has begun to buy bonds, both private and public, to try to keep the economies going as airlines and countless other businesses and their employees struggle to keep going. Our local bakery had 5-6 people running around like crazy to keep up with the morning crowds. Now there are 2, one baking bread and the other serving customers who are allowed in one at a time. Some additional businesses are allowed to operate under similar restrictions. Quel désastre!

The US looks worse. The caseload is mushrooming without the kinds of controls in place that Spain has. Spring breakers frolic on the beaches. The US has no national lock down in place, and some governors have not issued one on their own. Florida has the oldest population and no state wide order, as do 20 other states. Trump is finally taking the matter seriously, or so it seems. I hope he continues to listen to the pros.

Probably as a result of the reduction of activity the increase in the number of known cases is starting to level off in Spain, but there are still over 6000 new cases per day.  I think it will take until May for the numbers to start approaching  a manageable number.  

But even with this bit of good news I do not have enough tears. The ill. The dead and their families. The unemployed. My own inconveniences are nothing, nothing, nothing by comparison. I spend much of each day painting anyway, so now is not much different other than seeing friends, having coffee with my fabulous wife, going to exhibits. Still, nothing compared to what health care workers are dealing with, and all we can do in return is stay healthy and clap for them each night at 8.

Things are well ordered and calm in Valencia.  It does not have the the huge numbers of cases that Madrid and Barcelona have, at least so far.   There are about 5000 known cases in the province, about 25000 in Madrid and 16,000 in Barcelona.  The ICU’s in those two cities are at capacity.  Economically Valencia is probably no better off than the rest of the country, as the cancellation of Fallas meant that $1 billion+ in revenue did not materialize, yet much of the expense had already been incurred.  If it comes off in July it will be smaller, probably better than nothing.   

After we canceled our trip to Egypt we changed a flight from there to Berlin for one from here to Amsterdam.  Then the Netherlands closed flights from Spain until April 6 then extended that to April 12.  Our flight was for April 21. Then the airline announced it was canceling all flights in Europe.

Some areas of the Netherlands extended winter lock and bridge hours past the usual start time of April 1, mostly to April 12 but one area until June 1.  April is early for boating and it can be rather cold and gray so we are probably not missing much in that regard. Living aboard our boat saves us money so we’d like to get there for that reason as well as to pursue our journeys. This is comparatively minor issue of course, as long as our resources hold out, anyway.

blog Blog 2020

“Unorthodox” (on Netflix)

“Unorthodox” (on Netflix) is an excellent 4 part series looking at life in Williamsburg, a section of Brooklyn. The series is based on the autobiography of Deborah Feldman, b. 1986. Her mother left the faith and her father was mentally ill so her grandmother raised her. In the series Esty (Deborah) struggles to have intercourse, finding it extremely painful. After a year with no pregnancy her husband asks for a divorce. Etsy flees to Berlin with documents showing her right to German citizenship. The story evolves into the effort to find and get her to return. She struggles to find her way with little education and even less money. The trailer includes an interview with Deborah and those they employed to assure they realistically depicted the Hasidic world. I would be interested to hear how her husband and former community reacted. Garybob says check it out!

blog Blog 2020

Turron de Jijona

Turron de Jijona is Spanish soft nougat, with a wonderful almond and honey flavor. Jijona is the small town near Valencia where it is made. This turron is protected by European Union, through the IGP (Indicación Geográfica Protegida). It is made in December of each year and is a common end of the year treat. Almonds are extensively cultivated in Valencia province, dating from the Moorish era.

Your Spanish Recipes: Jijona´s turrón (Turrón de Jijona)

At first I thought it was a kind of halva. It has almost that consistency but it has more oil. I think it is sweeter too You can cut it easily with a knife, which is desirable as it comes in a block. You can see liquid inside the package. I was surprised to find it was almond oil.

El rey de la Navidad
One brand’s packaging

It is made from almonds, honey and powdered sugar. You roast the almonds and them blend into a paste while adding the honey and sugar. It is then allowed to rest for several days so that it becomes more firm. It is quite flexible when you open it but it easily breaks off too. Quite the treat!


Day 7 of the lockdown in Spain

Stats for Spain: 18890 with 1083 deaths. This is up from 8000 a week ago when there were 200 deaths. I am using the Washington Post site every day to maintain consistency, other sites may vary. For example, the national paper El Pais for example shows that there are “21.570 infectados y 1.094 muertos.” Another concerning development – Madrid’s hospitals are at double capacity

Here is what the lock down orders here say:

During the state of alarm, citizens and vehicles will only be allowed to travel on public roads and streets for the following activities:

The purchase of foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and essential items.

To attend health centers.

To go to work or to provide employment services.

To return to your usual residence.

To assist and care for seniors, minors, dependants, the disabled, or people who are particularly vulnerable.

In cases of force majeure or of necessity. Posted at

Trash service continues as does bus transport. You can only enter the bus by the side door to reduce contact with the driver. When we have been out to get supplies the buses we have seen have been empty or carrying only one or two people. The street traffic is a fraction of its former self.

At 8 p.m. the clapping starts every night. Cars passing by honk happily also for our health care workers. We can see a couple we know on the same flight as ours a few buildings down. On the 19th, what would have been the last day of Fallas, we had a fireworks on our street. It was short but sweet.

The Spanish are treating this matter very seriously but not without a sense of humor. Check out the videos below! (posted on my Youtube channel)

Italy now has 38,500 active cases. Our friends there said that the streets of Rome are finally empty, blaming the crisis there on the unwillingness of people to follow the order to stay at home. The number of cases in Germany has mushroomed. Everywhere in Europe is up. The US has surpassed Spain in total numbers, with comparatively few deaths reported so far.

I am so glad they included the score!

The daily mascleta (enormous firework displays) takes off in this courtyard

The Ofrenda is a huge parade where they place flowers on a gigantic frame that forms Mary’s cape.
blog Blog 2020

Day 2 of The Lockdown

We are up to around 10,000 cases in Spain with 500 deaths. Land borders are closed except to returning citizens and residents. China is sending materials and some experts. At least 19 dead in a nursing home in Madrid. Some 150 died in one day. The Health ministry says they can not test everyone that might be infected. Now there are 500 deaths.

The Spanish government expected to approve a moratorium on mortgage payments for those effected by the pandemic.   See in Spanish


Grocery stores have slightly reduced hours and limit the number of people at one time. Lidl limits entrance to one per family. In some they limit the number of identical articles you can purchase.

Starts at hour 11 eight minutes

Peg writes: The City falla was being assembled when Fallas was cancelled.  This morning it was burned.  The video is 11 hours long because no one knew when the burning would take place – the officials did not want a crowd to assemble.   Apparently, it was at about 4 a.m. this morning. 

The main part of the falla was Ayto, a woman seated in a Lotus position.  On the left side of her torso you see her head still on the pavement.  You can see that the artistas falleros added a surgical mask on the day Fallas was cancelled. 

The fire actually starts at about 11:08 on the video.  It is a pretty good representation of how they all burn on March 19, except that it took longer for the fire to start because it rained for a couple of hours before the burn. 

The burning is even sadder with the music playing, and there has been a constant stream of sad comments since the video was posted. 

Every night at 8 p.m. everyone opens their window or steps outside onto their terrace to clap for the health care workers who are working on everyone’s behalf.

blog Blog 2020

The Shutdown in Spain

Travel plans, smavel plans.  Our flight to on April 1st to Egypt went through Bergamo, one of two airports serving Milan, a region infected with Covid-19 and the area first shut down by the Italian government.  I had already started drawing some of the sculptures and wall paintings.  Latest update on the situation at end of post.


Head of Amenhotep, conte crayon

Our issues are as nothing compared to those who have become ill or those whose family members have died, but is part of the economic devastation the virus spread has caused.  Here in Spain all non-essential activities are prohibited.  The police can stop and question those whose activities might not be in compliance. Bars and restaurants can not make a centavo for the next two weeks at least as the government attempts to reduce and spread out the stress on the health care system.  The biggie is the cancelatin of Fallas, the annual festival that brings some 800,000 people into the city each March. It was rescheduled to July, creating economic hardship for thousands of workers. 

Before the Valencian government canceled we attended the first night’s fireworks at the port.   The crowds were a bit less than the usual huge but it was far from vacant.  The display was terrific!  

They had installed street lights and transported some of the sculptures.  We took a walk through an area known for its fantastic and large works.  


The venders were set up, selling buñuelos (donuts made with pumpkin) and porras (deep fried cones stuffed with sweet creaminess) on street corners throughout the closer in areas of the city. After the closure they left.


Bus routes had already been changed to deal with the streets being converted to pedestrian only. The trash containers, recycling bins (separate for paper, glass, metal-plastic being combined) had already been moved. City workers had delivered the barricades that the casals (the local groups that organize and fund the sculptures, street paellas and the like) use when they have paella (they make small fires on the pavement to make the rice dish) and to cordon off music and other events. In the main plaza the huge fence was set up to contain the magnificent daily mascletas, one each day at 2 p.m. from March 1-19. They managed to do ten before the cancellation. In the video you can hear the Fallera Mayor order the commencement of the display.

The enormous fallas’ (sculpture) for city hall was in place awaiting assembly. I can not find a photo. Below is a photo of the crowd. Perfect place to pass along an infectious disease!

Fallas 2020, las fallas de Valencia 2020 | Las Provincias
40-50,000 people squeeze into Plaza de Ayuntamiento

Falleras (the lady members of the casals) had prepared their fabulous gowns for the many parties and the major event called La Ofrenda (the Offer), where they walk from their casal to the Plaza de la Virgin each with a bouquet that is placed on the 25 meter (80′) tall rendition of Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms and two children at her feet.

Un protocolo exige a las falleras recato en escotes y ...
The Ofrenda

Dresses are back in the closets. I suppose those who make the bouquets will get their paychecks and those who deliver them will have this job again in July if in fact Fallas makes it back.

In the meantime people panic buy toilet paper, meat, pasta and jarred beans while standing in long lines to check out. I hope they are all being careful as they stand there. In our trips for groceries they were, and everyone was respectful and orderly. The supermarkets in some cases were not able to fully replenish supplies each night of the several that have passed since the lock down was announced.

Last night at 10 PM we heard clapping and cheering. We went out to the balcony. Friends from across the street were out there too – they’d had lunch with us that day. It turns out to have been a gigantic applause for the health care workers in the clinics and hospitals. It was a heart warming gesture in the midst of so much gloom.

LATEST UPDATE: I’ll keep you updated on the situation here. Deaths have skyrocketed overnight to near 200, from just 1 on March 3rd, doubling overnight. Number of cases doubled from 2 days ago to 8000.


The astounding art of the tomb of Nefertari

Nefertari ( d. circa 1255 BCE) was the first wife of Ramses II. Her tomb is in the Valley of the Queens. The astounding art of the tomb in the Valley of the Queens ( d. circa 1255 BCE) is at 38 minutes.

The film is about the powerful women of ancient Egypt. Gary Bob says check it out!

Follow me on Facebook too as I post some things there I do not post here

blog Kirkpatrick Family History

The Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick Clan

As a result of my interest in Italian citizenship I made contact with a high school classmate with expertise in the scientific aspects of genealogy in 2008. She arranged for me to have a Y-DNA test to the 37th allele. The Y test traces your paternal heritage. This is more appropriate for heritage tracing where the mother drops her family name for that of the father. The results of my test are in The test showed the presence of relatives from the general area of Central Europe west to Ireland. This was to be expected given my father’s Scottish Celtic heritage.

While in Ireland in the mid 1990’s I went to a shop and bought a print out dealing with the Kirkpatrick clan, my first notification that the family originated in Scotland, not Ireland as we had been told. By 1998 I’d learned of a town called Kirkpatrick-Fleming in Scotland near the border with England. We drove past it on the way to Glasgow. While in Glasgow for a two month period I noticed the many instances of the Kirkpatrick-Kilpatrick name such as Kilpatrick Hills (Kilpatrick is a variation). When we were in Flackwell Heath, England in 2014, one of the volunteers helped me research the Kirkpatricks using their account, at which point I learned about Roger de Kirkpatrick and the Closeburn Castle, owned by the Kirkpatricks from around 1200 to circa 1750.

Several years later I decided to see if I could trace the lineage back to Sir Roger de Kirkpatrick, our most famous ancestor. I used an paid account. I started with the people whose names I knew, the oldest being my great grandfather, whose name and other details I’d learned thanks to the family tree made by my cousin Lois. I then found his father and then the next and so forth, back to around 1200 and Sir Roger. I added this information to my account Kirkpatrick-Palermo-Peloso.

Among my findings was a James Kirkpatrick who was born in 1719 in Dumfries, Dumfries-shire (same area as Kirkpatrick-Fleming), Scotland and who died in South Carolina. The record I found shows that James moved to Ireland, had at least one child there, then moved to America. He had at least one child born in America, in Pennsylvania. James’ father, Alexander Kirkpatrick, left Scotland and settled in Belfast, Ireland in 1725, presumably bringing James with him. He also immigrated to America but I do not think any of his children were born there.  This is the link between our Scottish and Irish heritage. You can say we came from Ireland and to be correct but at the same time it is clear the family originated in Scotland circa 1200. This modifies the family story that we are Irish in origin. We are, in a sense, but much more Scottish, by a long shot.

Recently I discovered a Facebook group called Kirkpatrick DNA Member Roger Caulley looked at my Y DNA results and determined the following: “This indicates you are related to the Closeburn group but not very recently. Your common ancestor with the 2 known descendants of Sir Roger (de Kirkpatrick) lived about 800 years ago — ca 1200 AD. That would have been closer to Sir Ivone de Kyrkpatrick, founder of the clan. ” Ivone was born in 1196 per

No photo description available.
I do not understand this chart very well so can not explain it but perhaps a reader can
Above: Migration of Haplo Group R to which we likely belong

For additional background he referred me to This is a rambling and sometimes confusing account of the history of the family.

There you find a reference to Closeburn: “In 1232, Ivone de Kirkpatrick was granted a charter of ‘Kelosburn’ by Alexander II, and here they remained until 1783, when an imprudent heir was obliged to dispose of his inheritance. ” Kelosburn is now spelled Closeburn and is near Kirkpatrick-Fleming.

In Closeburn the Kirkpatricks built a castle called, appropriately enough, Closeburn Castle. It is still in existence and is now a B and B. It is a Category B listed tower house that was until 1783 the family seat. It was sold apparently to settle debts.

closeburn castle keep

Per Wikipedia, the family was granted the lands called Closeburn in 1232 by Alexander II, consistent with the aforementioned rambling account. The tower house dates from circa 1200.

In 1306 Sir  Roger de Kirkpatrick  (circa 1280-1357) reportedly finished off John “the Red” Comyn, a rival to the throne, whom Robert the Bruce  (Brus) had seriously injured. Bruce fled from the scene of the crime saying he was not sure his rival was dead. Sir Roger reportedly said, “I mak sikker” (I’ll make sure). The drawing below memorialized the scene. Less than seven weeks after the killing in Dumfries, Bruce was crowned King of Scotland. He granted de Kirkpatrick an armorial, which you see below. “I mak sikker” became the family motto.

The killing of John Comyn in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries, as seen by Felix Philippoteaux, a 19th-century illustrator.

Sir Roger was a 3rd cousin of Robert the Bruce. He was a 1st cousin of Sir William Wallace, a well known historical figure. Sir Roger recaptured Caerlaverock and Dalswinton castles from the English in 1355. He was murdered by Sir James Lindsay at Caerlaverock in 1357.

In 1685 the Kirkpatricks’ were awarded a baronercy Here is the list:

  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 1st Baronet (died c. 1695)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 2nd Baronet (died c. 1730)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 3rd Baronet (1704–1771)
  • Sir James Kirkpatrick, 4th Baronet (died 1804)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 5th Baronet (1777–1844)
  • Sir Charles Sharpe Kirkpatrick, 6th Baronet (1811–1867)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 7th Baronet (1839–1880)
  • Sir James Kirkpatrick, 8th Baronet (1841–1899)
  • Sir Charles Sharpe Kirkpatrick, 9th Baronet (1874–1937)
  • Sir James Alexander Kirkpatrick, 10th Baronet (1918–1954)
  • Sir Ivone Elliott Kirkpatrick, 11th Baronet (born 1942)

In the 17th century the family moved from Closeburn Castle to a newly built manor house next door. The manor house burned down in 1748. They repaired the castle and moved back in. The castle was sold in 1783 to a local minister, James Stewart-Menteith. Since then it has since changed hands.

Coat of Arms of the Kirkpatrick Baronets, of Closeburn


44,000 year old cave paintings

December 18, 2019

The oldest form of communication that reaches us from ancient man comes from artists.  The oldest drawing, found on a rock in South Africa last year, is some 73,000 years old.  In Germany there is a 40,000-year-old sculpture of a human with lion’s head.  In France, a 14,000- to 21,000-year old mural depicts a figure fighting a bison, with the faces sporting a beak.

A new discovery extends narrative cave painting back 44,000 years.  In caves on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, archaeologists discovered a painting of a hunt or ritual.  There are two wild pigs and four dwarf buffaloes chased by  mythical human-animal figures hunting with rope- and spear-like weapons.  They are not just individual pieces as in older discoveries but tell a story.   If the age of the paintings is confirmed independently, these become the oldest known narrative cave paintings. 


Screenshot from 2019-12-17 09:17:46



Screenshot from 2019-12-17 09:16:20



Screenshot from 2019-12-17 08:20:50


Screenshot from 2019-12-17 08:19:35


For further reading,


Screenshot from 2019-12-17 09:17:46

Bolivian Dance at Midnight

December 14, 2019


It was a bit past midnight.   We were on the way home from the theater, passing through Parque Turia, when we came across this group doing some worship dancing. There is an impromptu shrine to Mary in front of which they dance.


Bolivian folk dance

There were perhaps 100 people in the crowd.  Children were running about like it was afternoon.  People were laughing, watching the dance, clapping, chatting.