22nd of May 2018 – My day!

22nd of May 2018

Today is my birthday.

Now I don´t have to figure out how many years I do have behind me, I can just use the number that I have been using for better part of the last year.

So, it´s a birthday, a new beginning and a new future.

I don´t like birthdays much. There is supposed to be a party, which I don´t like and there are all these expectations.

I have tried to celebrate my birthday few times during my life and it has most of the time become a disaster.

I am good at celebrating others birthdays but mine is tabu!

This time is a bit different.

This time I welcome the day and the new future.

This time I am grateful for getting one more year in my book of life and I can live it to the fullest if that is what I want.

I have been realizing, as so often before, how lucky I am. Being independent and able to hop into my car a just drive into the unknown is a privilege.

It would kill me to have a discussion every time something hits me and I want to act now.

I was born into loneliness and that is most likely why I don´t ever feel lonely. That is a great gift.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend. We were discussing the importance of keeping the independence and dignity. One of her friends is 84 years old with heart problems. He just drove away and few minutes later the phone rang.

It was the 84 year old man’s daughter.

She told my friend that the father had been in an accident and was stressed. Could you go and talk to him? the daughter asked.

My friend went immediately. I drove by to see if there was anything I could do to help. The police was there. 3 cars, one badly damaged and the 84 year old standing beside my friend, shaking.

I just drove on, there was nothing I could do, everything was as it should be and I would just have been in the way.

I felt helpless, but accepted that sometimes it is not my place to help.

Today I will visit and see if they need anything. Yesterday is gone and now it is a new day. I could of course ignore them and hope for the best but I think it is always better to show passion.

How is my new year going to turn out?

I have no idea, which is the wonder about future, it is unknown.

I have an idea how I would like it to be, but not in detail.

I might make a picture like my favourite guru tells me to do.

Shaping the future begins in the mind.

I sometimes forget to listen to my intuition and act on what pops up in my mind without listening to the gut feeling.

That is when I make the biggest mistakes, but luckily there is always something that tries to wake me up, sometimes it works and sometimes not.

Be careful, said one of my dear friends.

Don´t do it, said another wonderful friend.

You will regret it for the rest of your life, said another.

You will lose your independence, said the third one.

I listened and made a decision which I am happy with.

I am gullible and believe the best, but often times everything is not what it looks like and that is when I need to open my eyes wide and listen to my heart.

Can you believe it that my next and most important task is to find a wood supplier who can stack up the wood in my garage. I have during last years bought wood from a wonderful family but this year I want to change and try something else.

It is like a hairdresser. I have the same hairdresser forever and don´t change. One day I decide it would be interesting to change and try something new. It does not mean that my hairdresser is not good. I love her but I want to try something new. Most likely I will go back to my current one, but at least I have got up from the track and made a new one!

For seven years I have had really ugly lights in my living room. Really ugly ones!

Why?

Because I have not found anything that has taken my breath away and that is what I want.

Lights are not just lights, they are art.

Yesterday I saw my dream light for the living room. It is handmade and looks like a tree or rather like a branch. It took my breath away. This is it, flew through my mind. I could see it over my beautiful dining table in the living room.

Ohhhh.

A piece of art is never cheap.

This one is VERY expensive.

If it is supposed to become mine it will after September. In September I have to pay my contribution to the society and when that is done I can do whatever I like to do.

Since the piece is so expensive the Portuguese won’t buy it. They will just look and admire and take a step back when the price tag appears.

I want to say thank you to all my friends who have wished me happy birthday, some by email, some by messages and some by Facebook. Your thoughts mean a lot to me.

On a day like this with the sun coming out and the warmth rising with the birds singing their symphony there is no way to be sad.

I am grateful for every year I have.

I don´t have that many left so each year counts more than when I was younger.

My luck is endless. Independence means everything to me and that is what I am going to keep.

I hope every day in your life, my reader, will be full of joy and happiness, but remember whenever there is a cloud the shining star is not far away.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

Just a thought – Corruption

20th of May 2018

Just a thought

The corruption

It gives me the creeps when I think about the corruption that is like pest plague in the country where I was born. Iceland is the land of corruption these days and has been since before the bankruptcy 2008. There is no end to the greed. Those belonging to the richest families in the country continue to buy and sell the country to those in favour, even to foreigners. This all goes on while there are people starving, there are people homeless, there are people killing themselves because there is no way out.

Now the government tells the unions that everything is stable and the common people cannot get paid more!

Just thinking about this makes me sad and furious.

In my new land, Portugal, there is also corruption everywhere.

During the process of trying to move from my apartment and build a house which would keep me warm during the cold months, has opened my eyes and yesterday I had to look me into the eye and ask if I really wanted to fall into the pit with the corruption. I almost did but something held me back and now I am free.

Looking at the trend here and learning more and more about the way business is done makes me sick.

How can a teacher coming from an ordinary family have 40 thousand EUR in the pocket?

How can this same person buy a house and renovate for 70 thousand EUR without going to the bank?

How can a house and an apartment change hands and nothing is documented?

The same man who sold me the apartment 7 years ago has now made this swoop with people who just 2 years ago were complaining to me about how little money they had.

Did they win the lottery?

No they did not.

How can people on minimum wages afford to buy things for several thousand just like blinking an eye?

Oh, there is an explanation. The Portuguese way. Don´t pay taxes. Let idiots like me pay the taxes so the money payed behind the table are available to buy new houses, new cars or whatever.

This year I will pay almost 8 thousand EUR in tax. One third of my pension it is.

I am happy to pay taxes. No society can survive without them.

What makes me furious; those who consider it just normal and wonderful to cheat on me and the system and tell me and those law obeying idiots that we should shut up and be happy.

I almost fell into the trap.

I walked with closed eyes towards becoming in a small part a participant in a system I loathe.

It does not matter if it is a small or a big part.

I am grateful for the power that took over and made sure that I could not do what I would have regretted for the rest of my life.

Disappointments can be a blessing.

I am grateful to the lady who decided not to sell me the land I fell in love with so many years ago.

The disappointment was that I had almost fallen into a horrible situation with open eyes and there would not have been any way back.

Gratitude is what I feel now.

Gratitude for the protection I got from somewhere.

I don´t know why, but something is protecting me, something higher that me makes sure if I open my eyes that I don’t make too many mistakes.

On Tuesday is my birthday, a new beginning and a new year on the 22nd. How will this year be?

Have not got a clue!

I am excited.

New adventures are around the corner.

New beginning is like an empty page.

Empty page which will be filled with happiness and joy, no doubt about it.

I will pay my taxes with a smile and be grateful for my contribution to the community that takes care of me.

Shame on those who cheat.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

Portuguese SAGAS – day 17 – shoes

32679858_1048236228661537_8817830697801613312_o.jpg17th of May 2018

This is day 17 of my holiday

Even though I am home in my bed and recovering from a horrible mattress that almost killed me!

Today is a beautiful day and hot and wonderful.

27 degrees so far but up to 29 later in the afternoon and the clouds are full of pictures, the ones that are sailing slowly and enjoying the warmth, just like we the humans.

Shoes!

What is it about shoes?

I saw something about the wedding in UK and there they were showing shoes.

My oh my

Beautiful white shoes, which of course I wear only in my wildest dreams!

But

I have got a friend that loves shoes just as much as I do.

She can wear them but now she is renovating a house, with her husband and when she gets this look, the shoe look, he says;

My dear wife, we are making a new roof!

No shoes now, please!

She is a wonderful wife and just dreams about the beautiful ones!

Since I broke my shoulder and my doctor told me that my bones are like glass I am only wearing ugly comfy shoes.

It is a pity but this is life.

I am not ruining my story about the beautiful Megan shoes by saying anymore.

Dreaming on is my destiny!

Hulda Björnsdóttir

Portuguese SAGAS – holiday day 13th in Beijós

  1. may 2018

Day 13 is there.

Today is the day of Fatima. The pilgrims have arrived and the celebration is on.

So what is Fatima and why is there a celebration today?

Fátima is a central Portuguese town that’s home to the Sanctuary of Fátima, a Catholic pilgrimage site. The Capelinha das Aparições marks the spot where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared in 1917. Other sacred sites include the Basílica de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, with its golden angels, and the modern church of Igreja da Santíssima Trindade. The Museu de Arte Sacra e Etnologia exhibits religious artifacts.

The modern church reminds me a bit of a Chinese conference venue. It is huge and when I was there seemed to me rather naked.

There is another church, the older one, which I like a lot, but that is just me.

So, these last days the pilgrims have walked from their villages all around the country and finally arrived to participate in the joy. What I found heart-warming this year was when I saw a younger man supporting his grandfather while they walked. There was love in the support and different from what I have seen before. Usually they are just walking, either silent or talking and this is the first time I see this physical support. Wonderful!

The pilgrims walk during the day, they stop to have food and there are cars following them. They do sleep during the night. Some are driven back to their homes in the evening so they can sleep in their beds and then they are taken back to the point they left last night and the walk continues. Some of them stay during the night in a camper van. At least everyone gets a good night’s rest.

Yesterday there was a video from one of my Facebook friends from the mass held yesterday evening and the square packed. A rather cold evening but who cares. This is the celebration of the year for many.

The story about Virgin Mary is beautiful and in a way wonderful to continue remembering it.

Some say that Fatima has lost its touch and become a money machine. In some ways I agree but this day is different. This day is wholly.

The day before yesterday I took a walk around a village not far from where I am staying. I parked my car and explored.

Walking is perfect to know the land. You see it in a different light.

My walk began at the square. There is a beautiful church, coffee shop, a huge tree with benches and tables and the tree functions as a parasol. 4 men sitting at the table looked at the foreigner.

Where did she come from? they asked each other.

Boa tarde, I said and they smiled.

Then I took a walk down the narrow road behind the church and in front of me there was a sight I see often in the villages here in my little land.

Abandoned houses. A lot of them. In between there were few and I mean few, houses which seemed to be used but the majority was just destroyed. Broken doors, broken windows, roofs falling apart.

This is a sight in the villages all around the country. People have left; there are no companies anymore and few inhabitants. In this village it looks like those still living there are farmers. Tractors driving through, smiling people, dogs walking around and among them a huge one. He was like a calf but did not bother me and totally ignored the stranger. Playing with a tiny one was more important and I could breathe easy and continue my walk.

2 goats enjoying the sun with lots of grass around them opened one eye just to see who was there when I took a photo. Peace is wonderful.

When I came back to the square a loud music from somewhere sounded and a lady sitting at her doorstep holding a beautiful dog’s paws trying to make him dance was in front of me next to my car. The lady had only two teeth but she smiled happy and did not care. When you are in the sunshine with a dancing dog you don´t care about vanity.

I left the village and thought about the Eurovision and all its glamour. How much that would cost and was it worth the effort when the villages are slowly dying? I don´t know but I find it sad to see all those abandoned little beautiful villages, thinking about the people who used to live there and asking myself where they all are now.

Since Eurovision was held in my country I had to watch it. I felt it was my obligation but how boring and thank God I don´t have to watch it again next year.

I have not watched Eurovision in decades and had completely forgotten how boring it is!

And seeing that Iceland was the last one made me wonder why they keep participating, but of course that has nothing to do with me and I should not care. I left long time ago.

Today is a sunny day, not as cold as yesterday and tomorrow there will be more sunshine and warmer.

Although I am enjoying the holiday I have to cut it short. I have a problem sleeping on the bed and last night I slept on the floor. The mattress is killing my back and I have never eaten as many painkillers as those last 2 weeks. Enough is enough and I have been reminding me that we always get what we pay for. I did not make sure before booking that the beds would be ok so this is just my fault and no one else’s. I am going to miss the area and the beauty and peace but sleeping is also important. I have met several wonderful people during my stay here and will definitely be back for a visit. I could even think of buying a land here but there is none available so that’s it.

Going back home in 2 days is ok, I will continue exploring the little land and now I have to find another place to build my wood house since the owner of the one I wanted has decided not to follow the law and make the necessary papers available. A huge disappointment it was but live goes on.

There is always a shining star behind every cloud and what happens is always for the best.

There is a reason behind this disappointment and will turn into something even better.

I have learned a lot during this process. I have also seen the pros and cons about my former plan which will make my life easier.

My apartment will be sold but that might take some months, which is normal, and while that is going on I can make a new plan.

Having a plan is vital.

Changing a plan is exciting.

Learning from what has already occurred is perhaps the shining star.

2 more days left in Beijós and who knows what happens after that? I have no idea. The plan is to get rid of the pain in the body and imagine how wonderful it will be to sleep in my own bed! Oh, I can´t wait.

Have a great day and enjoy the lessons life delivers.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

Portuguese SAGAS – Day 10 and 11 on holiday

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11th of May 2018

Another day and another adventure ahead, or is it?

This is my 11th day on holiday and it has been great so far. Now I have experienced how it is to live in the north and just as expected I like it a lot. Maybe it is colder but that is ok. My new house will be a woodhouse and with proper insulation, not the polypropylene they are covering the houses everywhere these days. I can´t imagine that is a good idea. What about houses breathing? How do they breath through all this white plastic?

No, I prefer the old fashioned wonderful rock wool that was in my house in Iceland.

Yesterday was a warm day and sunshine all day long. 25 degrees is not bad and I even took off my cardigan!

I went to Viseu in the afternoon to have lunch. Driving 25 minutes just to get lunch is of course madness but there is always exciting to see and experience.

Viseu as many other places in Portugal have an interesting history.

The origins of the city extends to proto-history, when migrating groups settled the territory, including the Celts and Lusitanians. Roman colonists settled in this territories during eras of prosperity and peace, leading eventually to Suebics, Goths and Muslim cultures. The Suebic peoples, by the middle of the 6th century, had already an established community, with a bishop that existed as the suffrage of Braga. With the arrival of north African Muslims, the Visigoths escaped the territory and refuged in the distant mountains of Asturias.

There are so many things I find interesting about the city. Not many traffic lights and everything goes smoothly with roundabouts. On a sunny day like yesterday afternoon the traffic is fast but they do respect the zebra crossing, or at least most of the drivers.

As normal for me I park my car far away from my destiny and walk. The Portuguese trend is to park as close to your destination as possible. I consider this habit of mine to help me keeping fit and not gaining too much weight, although I am a bit worried about the extra kilos I accumulated during the months I had the flu. It will be a task to get rid of them when I move back to my apartment in Penela but that is for another day.

Many people who move abroad to live continue to call home the country or the place where they were born.

I don´t, I adjust, now home is Portugal and before that it was China. I never say home if I talk about Iceland.

This month I live in Casa da Fragas in the north and that is my home and I say “I’m going home” when I am for example in Viseu, as yesterday and going back to Beijós. Home is always the place where I live at the moment and this to me means to live in the moment!

Back to the trip to Viseu yesterday. I needed something to eat. I was hungry, really hungry and afraid I would collapse, which would not be good, being faraway from people I know.

The moll I went to is the first big one when I arrive to Viseu. I have been there many times and there are 2 of my favourite shops in the country. Not clothes shops. No, they sell art, porcelain, all kind of glass art and it feels like I am in my beloved China when in those 2 shops. Every time I go there and breathe in the beauty I go out happier and with this wonderful feeling in my heart that true art gives me.

The lunch I got was a surprise. So many restaurants on the top floor. This time I saw a new one and discovered something I had no idea existed, a smoked salted codfish. Can you believe it? I found it unbelievable and decided to try. The cook told me it would be nice. I believed him and ordered the Bacalau fumado with salad and water to drink. The cook told me it would take about 5 minute to make my dish. No problem.

I sat down and took the salad and water with me, I was starving I there was no way I was going to faint in front of those wonderful people. Eating my salad and waiting for the surprise I thought “I have to invite my friend here, I am sure she has not tried this”

Since I was hungry, starving, I did not take any pictures, not this time.

The smoked salted codfish arrived. It looked yammy!

I took the first bite, The cook and the girl looked at me.

OH, this was soooooo yammy.

The cook came over to me and asked if I liked it.

Oh yes I do, I told him, this is amazing.

We had a conversation about the fish and he told me he had just started in the restaurant, I mean the cook told me, not the fish. I don´t have conversation with my food, or at least not all the time!

I tried to explain to the cook where I am staying and he did not have a clue where the place is. People have problems understanding my pronunciation of Beijós. It is the J that is the problem. I can´t make it correct.

Yesterday I also tried to pay my gas bill. Not possible. The machine did not work. Now the bill is 150 EUR but next month in will be almost nothing. Surprise surprise for the gasmen who I really don´t like. I liked the old company but this new one is not my favourite but who cares, I will move soon.

Today is day 11 of my holiday. It is cloudy in the morning and rather cold. The sun will shine later today but guess what, tomorrow will be 14 degrees, and yes I said 14 degrees during the day. Just as well that I brought winter clothes with me. The warmth will come again and summer clothes on my body again.

The weather cannot decide how to behave, it´s almost as confused as I am.

See you later and this is it for today.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

Portuguese SAGAS – Day 8 and 9 – Where did all the men come from?

10th of May 2018

Good morning.

A beautiful day even though it is cold in the morning. The sun is already shining and makes the difference.

Yesterday I went to Penela just to water the flowers and take care of some practical things. My singing teacher was sick so there was no class but that is ok. There will be another day.

It was a good idea to take this holiday.

Now I have a better idea how it is to live here in the north and I do like it.

I look forward to go home in June and sleep in my own bed. Sleeping in a bed that is not mine with a mattress that is killing my back is something I would not like to do for more than a month. Tossing and turning during the night trying to find some spot that is different is confusing.

Waking up in the morning looking out of the window seeing the wonderful birds sitting on the balustrade showing off their beauty is worth the tossing and turning.

There is one bird with blue wings who was running around this morning and another joined, a little one with black wings, and they waltzed like they were saying good morning to the strange lady looking out of the window.

Usually there is peace and quiet where I stay now. Of course there are guests and some of them make more noise than others but that is normal. I had a family with 3 children in next house for few days. They took over the entrance hall and now the solution has been found. My table has moved. It is close to my balcony door and no one is going to move that one!

Well, even though the peace and quiet something happened last Tuesday evening. I was watching the beautiful sunshine, which is unbelievable, and suddenly some men arrived. A smoke rose from the grill area and more men came.

What was going on?

One of the guests had most likely decided to make a grill party with his friends.

More men came.

I counted 15, then I stopped counting but they came like flowing water. Some by cars, others by scooters, some in blue and others in read.

What was happening?

I looked the doors and the windows.

When someone walked by my bedroom window and around the house I was not at ease.

For an evening the peace and quiet had left but has arrived again.

And, this episode convinced me that I would not want to live in a house somewhere in the woods faraway from everyone. I want to live close to the people and feel safe.

This was the night when Eurovision was on.

I did watch it; felt it was my responsibility because it is held here in my land.

I have not watched this competition for many many many years and had totally forgotten how boring it is! Since the competition is in my country I have to watch again on Saturday, the final day. I just hope Portugal will not win again. I could not bear to have to watch this next year.

There was an Icelandic song but I turned on the TV late and did not see it, although I have tried to listen to the song before. The singer is young, smiling, happy with everything. He has a great voice but did not get into next part which is on Saturday. I did not like the song but that is ok. I don´t live in the country anymore and something like this is not of any interest for me.

It though struck me how horrible it would be if the song would for example win. That would be a disaster. Just imagine all the money spent on a competition like this?

Today is the 10th day of my holiday.

I have not decided how to spend it. Most likely I will just be working on my computer and singing a bit. Even though there are no classes the voice needs nourishing and recovering after the many weeks of the flue is complicated but I am getting there. The low notes are still rusty but I am optimistic.

I did change my bedclothes this morning and that has been my morning exercise so far!

More to come either later today or tomorrow.

The excitement is not to have a plan, just go with the flow.

Enjoy your day, wherever you are and remember to respect your age. Your age is just a number. I have suddenly realised that I have to calculate how many years I have got in my bag. In 12 days I will have another number but that is all which changes.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

Portuguese SAGAS – day 7 – the beauty in the destruction

7th of May 2018

It´s evening again. A beautiful one and the weather has been truly great, sunshine and then a bit of thunderstorms and rain, not much.

I was thinking about the fires, the burned trees, and the climate in my land this summer and about the people who are everywhere cutting and cleaning last years horror.

There is so much to cut and clean. You drive 5 minutes and there the emptiness appears or the disaster. Black trees or no trees at all where they have been removed. There are stacks of cut ones all around, everywhere. Some of them will be used for keeping the houses warm next winter.

There are branches and leaves to be burnet.

On the other side of the road I walked this morning there is a farm with lots of grapevines. The man was working in the field; I do call it a field, taking care of the trees. They are getting greener these days but during the winter they are naked and a bit ugly!

We did talk a bit, me and the man, not me and the grapevine. It was getting hotter and I was in hurry to get back before the worst heat. I even had a hat on and kept it on during my whole walk!

Taking care of the vineyard is a huge work and it never ends. The grapes will eventually end up in a bottle on some ones table, making the drinker happy. Next year everything starts over again and this goes on and on forever.

Being a farmer in my land is a hard work.

On the other side of the road there are trees that need cutting. This morning 3 men working hard and cleaning the land by cutting trees, those 3 have been there since I arrived 7 days ago.

I went into the wood, just to get the feeling, and looking ahead exploring what was in hiding between the trees.

I love the moss, it is beautiful and wherever I looked this morning I saw art among the trees. Just nature at its best.

We need to pause, look around, and breathe in the beauty. Even a cut tree is in a way full of beauty.

Please look at the photos I have put in this blog. They speak louder than words.

Sit down and imagine how my little land will look when all the trees have been burned and there is just waist land. Imagine how hot it will be. Imagine how the green becomes black, humans and animals will suffer, nothing will be the same. All green will disappear if we have another summer like the last one. We need a miracle. We need the authorities to take action and make sure that there won’t be a repetition from last year.

Driving through the villages there is destruction everywhere. I have not been to one, not even one, village where there is no damage from last year.

Imagine the tourists, will they keep coming when the green has disappeared and the heat is soaring?

I have to admit that I am worried. The devastation is that most of the fires last year were manmade, controlled by greed.

How sad is that!

Tomorrow is day 8 of my wonderful holiday. I will go to Viseu. The adventure continues. Making the most of every day in peace and quiet is the goal.

I don´t travel during the summer. The immigrants arrive and the tourists as well. The traffic is monstrous and the heat will be unbearable this summer, at least here in the centre and north part of my little and wonderful land.

I have been sharing with you the devastation but below I want to show you the beauty of this evening.

 

Hulda Björnsdóttir