Thanksgiving 2012

November 18th, 2012 20 comments

Coming back from Euskadi this summer has been the hardest since I moved to the United States. It would always take me a couple of weeks to leave my country behind and get into the groove of my American life. This year though, I wasn’t fast enough and I’m still hanging in there, adding to the blues of the holiday season.

This morning I got up and thought “Jeez, Henar!” Blah, blah, blah… Sure it’s hard to be an immigrant and away from your family, plus things happen or don’t happen that bring you down. But it is what it is, and it’s not going to change. It’d be different if living in Boise sucked, but I freaking love it – the place and its people. I think it is time to get out of the funk and put down in writing what I’m thankful for this year, the people and things that make living in Boise the best move I ever made, immigrant syndrome and all.


For the first time in 16 years all my friends are here: Dunya moved back from Germany, Victoria left Idaho Falls, and Irune is once again the teacher at Boiseko Ikastola. Diana never left since we met (she knows better), and neither has Ruth. Ander will be here for Christmas.

My Basque-American girls. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I’d have probably never started with pala, slept in Esther’s spinning guest room after a girls night-in and 3 bottles of wine, enjoyed the Anniversary dinners in San Francisco (don’t get me started), or pulled and all-nighter in Amoroto cycling through the three bars in town until 9 am the following day. They bring me into their houses at Thanksgiving or Christmas when they know I am alone. They help me understand my kids better.

I’m grateful for the last two and a half years.

It’s hard to get up early sometimes, to finish a translation before I get to work at H-P after dropping the kids of at school. Then I read the news coming from Spain. I’m thankful for short nights, long days, and awesome coworkers.

Bi-monthly massages by the best masseuse in town, our very own Amaya Oxarango-Ingram. Along with my body, she soothes my mind too. Eskerrik asko.

My house never sold, but I’m thankful I tried. Now, I have new gutters, fresh paint on the outside trim, a cute outdoor porch light, and my living room and kitchen are much better organized.

I’m grateful for my kids. They make me laugh and achieved the almost impossible task of making their mom more patient, less self-centered, an ex-smoker and incipient baker. Plus they still haven’t switched to talking to me in English.

I am thinking about creating a shrine to whoever came up with Skype. I talk to my parents and sister more now than when I lived in Euskadi. Skype makes it possible for my kids to maintain a bond with my family all year-long.


Finally, I’m grateful for the blog. I love spreading the word about Basque stuff, but most of all, I just like the opportunity to let it all out.


These are just a few of the things that make me happy, although there are many more that keep me going. I need to be better at keeping them in mind.

Oh, and you know what? It would be awesome if you would stop for a second to leave a comment with the one thing that made this year special for you.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

Categories: Chico, Holidays

My House of Mirrors (II)

November 17th, 2012 No comments

Last night I made another trip to my own private, messed up, and distorted House of Mirrors. My friend says I need to find a way to break them. I agree, but it’s not like I can just take a hammer and throw it at them. I don’t know where they sell the tool I need.

In the meantime, I have pala. And a house that needs to be rearranged into pre-sale status, a bunch of papers, boxes and bills lost in the back of drawers around the house, plus a semi-broken garage door I need to fix. That’s enough to keep me busy during the weekend and into 2013.

So, let’s turn on the music and get to work!

Categories: Chico

Igotz Ziarreta: An unusual take on Basque culture (and ties to Idaho!)

November 15th, 2012 2 comments

This morning I saw several interesting photos posted online by a couple of friends, not the kind you take with your phone and immediately upload to Facebook, but of professional quality. They were different, funny, provocative —and frankly, a little freaky at times— and offered a different spin on Basque culture. I was intrigued, so I did a little bit of research and I found Igotz Ziarreta, a Basque from Bizkaia living in Barcelona, who works as the graphic designer for the Basque Center in Barcelona and is responsible for many of the posters the center uses to announce its events.

He won the Durango Azoka design contest in 2007 with his Naked Olentzero, the CJOP photography contest in 2010, and the Irudimena contest organized by Azkue Foundation along with EKE.

Back in 2007, Igotz already raised some eyebrows with a poster for the Lumagorri Gay Party that featured Lehendakari Ibarretxe from a different perspective. Now, his new series “Made In” are bound to raise some more with his unusual take on Basque culture.

You can check all of Igotz’s photographs by visiting his website or his Facebook page.

PS.— After I published the post, I sent Igotz the link and a note introducing myself, in case he wanted to share the article around. He answered shortly afterwards with an interesting fact about his dad —the older man with the PlayStation in this photo— that hits very close to home: at the end of the 1960′s, Igotz’s dad worked as a sheepherder in Thousand Springs, Idaho. According to Igotz, there is a spark in his dad’s eyes every time he speaks about the time he spent in Idaho, as it was a very special time of his life.

Categories: Art, Basque Community

Embracing BFE

November 14th, 2012 4 comments

Two months later and the house is still mine, so I took it off the market. The holiday season is almost here, that time of the year when the immigrant syndrome will reach its peak as it always does, and the less stress I have the more fun for everyone. If there was something I learned at MarkMonitor was to identify the stressors in your life and zap’em. I started by quitting that company and it’s only gotten easier since then.

Thus, even with the bitter taste of disappointment, I’m looking forward to the next few days. Yesterday, before I left for work in the morning, I had a couple of minutes to spare and I could’ve loaded the dishwasher, but I looked straight at those dirty dishes and said, screw it. I turned around, left the messy sink behind, and didn’t look back. I will purposely leave clothes on the floor, crumbs in the carpet, and oil splatter on the kitchen stove. The next time I make my bed I’ll have to search on google for instructions. An impressionist version of yourself will be staring back at you from any mirror in the house.

Ahhh… Living in BFE might not be so horrible after all.

Categories: Chico, Sarcasm

Tips on cheating

November 13th, 2012 2 comments

Why would I be the only one not talking about the Petraeus scandal? Once in a while I like to be normal and read about current affairs. I don’t judge, but I do have some opinions on extramarital relationships that I’d love to share with you.

1. If you’re married, don’t.

2. If you’re thinking about getting involved with a married person, don’t.

3. If you still must —apparently, you’re one of those ‘hands-on’ people that only learn by doing— try falling for the guy/girl next door. This way, if it gets out, only their spouse will care, and maybe their family, providing they still talk to one another. There will be no breaking news on Fox, no articles published in every newspaper, magazine and pop-culture website known to man.

4. Really, how many more examples do you need? Monica Lewinsky and President ClintonRudy Giuliani and a bunch of womenJohn Edwards and Rielle Hunter

5. Keep it to yourself. If you can’t do it, why would your friends? You’ll have to be more careful if you’re a man, though. I don’t understand how this is possible, but apparently women who cheat hide it better than men. (Ah, it says we’re more psychologically sophisticated. Of course!)

6. Delete your e-mails (although I’m pretty sure this will do nothing if you’re playing with the CIA or the president of the United States.)

7. You can still get caught when you least expect it. Seriously, don’t grope and drive.

8. If you happen to be male and famous and get caught cheating (see #4), don’t worry about it. You’ll be just fine.

And remember, eventually you both will be outed. It might be a whistleblower or one of you guys writing your memoirs, but the affair will undoubtedly be known. For the latter, however, it will be nice to have those emails to fall back to, thus conflicting with Tip #6. You’ll have to exercise your own judgement here, which obviously is quite poor if you’re in the middle of an affair, so I bet you are going to keep them.

You’re welcome.


Javi Zubizarreta’s ‘Zuretzako’ wins nomination to best film

November 13th, 2012 No comments

Javi Aitor Zubizarreta, the young Basque film director from Boise, is back on the news.

His film ‘Zuretzako’, about the traditionally Basque, immigrant occupation of shepherding on the hills of Idaho, has won anomination to best film in the fiction feature competition of the Red Rock International Film Festival of Zion Canyon, the newest incarnation of the film festival in Southern Utah. It evolved from a college film competition in 1991, and became an international event in 2004.

The 60 minute movie, which stars Javi Zubizarreta’s father Luis and his brother Josu, is the story of Javi’s grandfather, Joaquin, as he herded sheep in the mountains of Idaho, hundreds of miles away from his family in the Basque Country.

Zuretzako starts in 1935, though it later shifts to 1955 when Joaquin is back in the Basque Country with his wife and children and must leave them once again. The action then moves to 1975, when his own son Luis (played by Josu) comes to America to herd with him. Father and son must deal with the fact that they haven’t seen each other for many years.

Zubizarreta enjoyed previous success with his documentary Artzainak: Shepherds and Sheep, which takes a look at the history of shepherding on the Idaho hills near where he grew up.

You can read the entire article on the website.


‘Zuretzako’ related articles

“Zuretzako”, a Basque immigrant tale

“Zuretzako” in the Idaho Statesman

Javi Zubizarreta’s “Zuretzako” to premiere in Boise next week (Includes an interview with Josu Zubizarreta)


Categories: Basque, Interwiews, Movies, USA

The invisible side

November 12th, 2012 3 comments

A friend —another Basque immigrant mom living abroad— sent me an email today that made me think of this story.

I forgot where it happened and whether it was this or last year, but a lady approached me one day and thanked me for being her inspiration. I looked at her in shock, racking my brains to find her face hidden somewhere in this messy head of mine, failing miserably. She must have seen me starting to panic because she smiled and hurried to tell me that we didn’t actually know each other, but that she often saw me in the mornings running down Five Mile Road. After a while, she decided to take up running herself and wanted to tell me how happy she was.

I was flattered, but mostly surprised. I am far from what you’d call a gracious runner, and I barely make it to 40 minutes. Nevertheless, and unbeknownst to me, I gave someone the encouragement they needed to make a positive change in their lives.

So, even when the things you do don’t seem as perfect as you’d like, you might still be someone’s example to a better life. Remember that.

Categories: Chico, Random

Boise’s Basque Museum and Cultural Center receives service award

November 12th, 2012 No comments

The Idaho Heritage Trust, Idaho Humanities Council and the Idaho State Historical Society recognizes outstanding service by an Idaho museum each year with The Sister Alfreda Elsensohn Museum Award for Outstanding Service.

This year’s recipient, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center will be celebrated at an awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Basque Museum & Cultural Center.

The award, created in 2008, is named for Sister Alfreda Elsensohn, who founded the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude in Cottonwood.

Sister Alfreda, one of Idaho’s outstanding historians, sought to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts from Idaho County and the surrounding area to better educate the public. “A museum is a bridge which links the present with the past,” she often said.

Here are the criteria for the award:

  • Will have a record of outstanding professional programming.
  • Will be leaders in the field of Idaho museums.
  • Will have a record of sharing their resources and information with other institutions, through such entities as the Idaho Association of Museums, thereby assisting in the professional development of all the state’s museums.
  • Will be able to use the funding to move to a higher level of professionalism.
  • Will have experience in administering and implementing grant-funded projects and programs.

The Basque Museum & Cultural Center was established in 1985 and is located on the historic Basque Block in Boise, Idaho. Its mission is to preserve, promote and perpetuate Basque history and culture.

Original article published on the Idaho Statesman on November 10.


Positive thought to start the weekend

November 9th, 2012 2 comments

The week has been hard and today, to top it off, we got the first snowfall of the year. It’s a light one —I very much doubt it will make a lasting impression on roads and sidewalks— but a snowfall nonetheless. I was holding on to the fact that winter wouldn’t be here for another couple of months, but it’s getting harder and harder to ignore its presence.

On the plus side, it’s Friday, my favorite day of the week. Sure, it’s not a surprising fact, as 90% of the population in the world probably agrees with me. Apart from the obvious reasons to like Fridays —like partying after work or signaling the beginning of the weekend— I like this day for one other reason: more parking spots are open closer to the building’s entrance at work than on any other day of the week.

On a cold, snowy day like today, a shorter walk to the office is one of those little things that make me happy.


Categories: Chico, Random

Finally some good news: Gatibu’s new single is here

November 9th, 2012 No comments

I knew it was coming, but didn’t know that Gatibu’s new single would be released today. So when I got up this morning and saw the news, I was psyched. They’re my favorite band from the Basque Country, and I haven’t lost hope that one day they will play in Boise.

The song is called ‘Bixotza suten’ (Heart On Fire). You can listen and download the song here: Bixotza suten. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Gatibu related posts

Vanity license plates

Goodbye, Basque license plate

Gatibu special on Radio U, Costa Rica – Podcast available

Gatibu’s interview on ETB-3

Gatibu’s interview: English/Spanish transcriptions

Categories: Basque, Chico, Gatibu, Music
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