Posts Tagged ‘Spain’


Monday, November 25th, 2013

As an anthropologist, I studied the role of extended families cross-culturally and throughout history.  Extended families 5208767233_41a571d091_onormally include not just parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and siblings, but aunts, uncles, and cousins and, in many cultures, second and third cousins. Without the participation of extended families it is unlikely that modern civilization would have evolved as effectively as it has. But today we have evolved so far that our technology and economic flexibility have made extended families in many parts of the world, and particularly in the United States, relatively unimportant for the majority of people.

Does this matter? I think it does, and in ways that are perhaps more important than we realize. It is not just a matter of support that we receive in terms of babysitting, economic assistance, and psychological comfort in times of need.  Extended families remind us of who we are, where we came from and why what we do matters.

One of the reasons I am particularly pleased that my daughter is marrying into a tight-knit family in Barcelona, Spain is that the Catalan culture, like many European cultures, greatly values the extended family. Cataluna is a relatively small region, and the opportunities for families to share major events are relatively easy. In the case of my daughter’s wedding, to some extent extended family members have to be limited as inviting the entire extended family would require a wedding of many hundreds of just Catalan family members. Even with these cuts, extended family will number one hundred or more. (more…)

Factory in White

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

In my previous blog I wrote about the family of Dr. Claret and his famous white parties in Cadaques.  It is an honor that myfactory foto daughter is marrying into such a wonderful family. Not only was Dr. Claret one of  the most esteemed  child surgeons, professors, and medical experts in the world, he was a great humanitarian who offered his services for free to clinics in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in Africa both during and after he had retired from teaching and medicine. Perhaps just as importantly, Dr. Claret was a man who knew how to enjoy life and who focused on his five daughters and thirteen grandchildren as his primary source of happiness and joy. Even above his children, grandchildren and work (he considered the thousands of children whose lives he saved or improved his extended family), Dr. Claret noted in his autobiography that the greatest joy and inspiration in his life was his wife Toña. Dr. Claret met Toña in 1952. She was a nurse and he was just completing his internship. They worked and socialized together for four years and then married in 1956. They built his medical practice together and raised five children and lived an extraordinary life. But the most extraordinary aspect of this life, according to Dr. Claret, was his sixty-year relationship with his beloved Toña.

It is not surprising to me that a Catalan of such world renown and accomplishments would place his relationship with his wife above all other joys, Catalans are known for their romanticism, loyalty and commitment to family.

But throughout the rest of Spain, Catalans are known above all for their work ethic. Catalonia is by far the richest province in Spain. In part this may be due to natural resources.  But the biggest factor is the work ethic of the Catalans. Dr. Isidro Claret was no exception. (more…)


Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

As many foodies know, for at least the last decade or two there have been annual dinners throughout the world where avistas secret location is chosen as well as a time and place for people to meet and then everyone shows up dressed entirely in white and are taken, usually by bus, to the secret location where tables have been set up for a gourmet dinner.  It is generally believed that this event was started in France, and that is probably true.

However I have just learned of another “white party” that predates the “dinner in white” and that more than likely was the inspiration for the current French version of this food and fashion lover’s extravaganza. In  the small fishing  town of Cadaques, Spain  on the northern and most eastern sector of The Costa Brava, twenty miles south of  the French border, the first  “white party” was hosted by the noted child surgeon Isidro Claret and his wife Toña in 1983.The original  white parties were held for three consecutive years in August, starting at 10 p.m. in the evening and running until  10 a.m. the next day. Each of the adult family members of the Claret family would set up a tent and prepare their favorite dishes ranging from stuffed beef (freshly butchered after a bull fight in neighboring town of Figueres, the birth place of the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali), fresh gazpacho, pumpkin soup, homemade Catalan sausages, and other local delicacies.

Musicians were hired and wine flowed like water.  Every year the parties became larger and larger until the large grounds were filled to capacity with dance floors constructed, covering the few spaces not planted with tables. The neighbors made available their refrigerators to keep additional supplies of cold beverages and more than  six hundred people  chose the finest white linens, satins, silks, cottons, feathers and clothing materials to fashion the most incredible white costumes available. (more…)

Daylight savings time

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Last Sunday morning at  2 am  in the morning  everyone in the continental united states except those living in Arizona photo(way to go Arizona!!) was compelled to turn back  our clocks one hour.  If you have to turn  your clocks “falling back” at least  the next morning is far preferable to “springing  forward,” which we will get to experience next March or April.  I have never figured out why we call  this new time period daylight savings.  I saved no time by changing the clocks and I am sure that I am not going to get an extra hour of life despite the change on the clocks.  I know that there is some reason for changing the clocks but am not sure that that reason is valid anymore.

This daylight savings program has been going on for years. When I was a young child we were told that the reason for daylight savings time was to protect the farmers so that  they would not have to get up in  the dark to feed their animals. Later we were told that it was so that the young human animals—us  first and second graders—would not have to walk to the bus stop in the dark.  Those reasons may  have been valid at one time and may be valid today but I  do not like daylight savings time.  As I write this blog it is only 4:35 pm and the sun here in Cardiff is starting to set. In another twenty minutes  all memory of today’s sun will be gone. I do not like my evenings starting at 5 pm. As we approach the shortest day of the year the evening will start just a few minutes after  4 pm. (more…)

Vortexes of Energy

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

There is a belief that vortexes of energy exist on planet earth. In these vortexes it is believed that humans can access sedonaenergies not normally visible in areas that are not vortex-like. One of the most popular places in America where vortexes are believed to be abundant is Sedona Arizona. There has never been scientific proof that vortexes really exist. And yet I have met dozens of people who have had unusual experiences at the supposed vortexes of Sedona and an entire industry of vortex tours has mushroomed for vortex seekers.

Like much new age phenomenon I suspect that the belief in vortexes is overstated. And yet I do know a woman who had a true spontaneous healing from ten years of MS at a Sedona vortex. This highly accomplished businesswoman had been confined to a wheel chair for two years before visiting a particular Sedona vortex. While at the vortex, which she had barely been able to ascend crawling on her hands and knees, she had a spontaneous healing and has been able to walk normally ever since. This occurred more than twenty years ago. (more…)

Love and Marriage

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

My daughter Tara is now officially engaged to be married to Oia Pursals Claret. The picture shows her hand and the Tara and Oía engagementTara with ringdiamond engagement ring. This is a joyous occasion for Tara, Oia, and all of our families. Tara and Oia have been living together for more than two years and both families have enjoyed spending time together mostly in and around Barcelona, Spain where Tara and Oia are living.  For the last six months ever Since Oia told me he was going to propose to Tara  as soon as he was able to have the right  engagement ring made,  I have been telling everyone (except Tara) that  Oia is Tara’s fiancée, though of course only now is it official.  Tara suspected the engagement was going to happen, but like all major events in life, one never knows for sure until the proposal is actually made. I have never seen Tara with a bigger smile and greater enthusiasm for life than I did this morning when she Skyped me from the mountain beach town of Cadaques near the French border in Cataluna where the happy couple will be celebrating their engagement.

Ever since I met Oia two years ago I have felt that he would be the ideal husband for Tara. It helps that Oia’s Catalan family is wonderful and provides ideal support for both Tara and Oia as they establish a life together. Tara has  been a dancer, writer, editor, and social media  PR specialist. Tara is presently focused on editing and assisting spiritual teachers with their books.  And Oia, a Catalan architect working with one of Barcelona’s top architecture firms, is focused on creating ecologically sustainable buildings and homes. Neither is fully established with their careers from a financial perspective, but they have each demonstrated excellence which I am sure in time will provide them with the necessary financial support to raise a family together. More importantly, they are nurtured by the creative elements of their work and able to share aesthetic and cultural interests that will sustain an active and  stimulating dialogue between them for many years. They are good and kind people and all of us are looking forward to when they have children since they are both movie star good looking and are likely to produce amazingly attractive and talented offspring. (more…)


Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Giving Back One of the activities that I take on is to interview students applying for Schoolyear Abroad Programs in Italy, France, Spain and China. I usually interview three or four students annually. I am amazed at the intelligence and maturity of these fifteen and sixteen year old girls and boys. I see their enthusiastic smiles and listen to their dreams for their careers and how each of them hopes to contribute to create a better world. It gives me joy to share my own experiences from so many years ago with these fresh enthusiastic leaders of the future.

I was one of the first graduates of the program which was started in 1964 in Spain with nineteen students studying in Barcelona. Today with programs in four countries there are now almost two hundred high school juniors studying abroad and living with families in each country as they learn French, Spanish, Chinese and Italian. Altogether there are now close to 10,000 alumni from the combined programs. I was the first president of the alumni association which I helped form back in 1978 when there were only a few hundred graduates. Of the many accomplishments in my life helping Schoolyear Abroad in this way is among those of which I am most proud. (more…)

Barcelona is Very Messi

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The recent 60 Minutes piece on Barcelona’s incredible soccer team focused on the renowned skills of Lionel Messi (the first player in history to win four Gold Balls, passing Marco Van Basten, Johann Cruyff, and Michel Platini who each won three) arguably the greatest active player and possibly the greatest player of all time. Messi and his teammates have catapulted the soccer team to undreamed-of success winning more international championships than any other team in history in a similar period of time. (more…)