First of all, to those of you in Holland, Poland and the UK, hope your roofs stayed on and all is well.....
Just received an e-mail from the google ad people welcoming me blahblahblah, and was informed that I am not to ask people to click on the ads. Of course I would never do that, and have not done that, they are just there because I am so in love with the free market principle of being able to place ads anywhere, however damned annoying they are. Why would I want to advertise the ads????? I will be renting out my forehead soon. Any bidders?
Much more delightfully....I've been there, done ALL of that, and raced most of the boats they have there. Hey, Mel, you out there? We should take the 14 out this summer!
I also found this quote from an article in an English language news site. It was about a 12 year old girl that was set upon by her classmates. About 10 of them. She came out with bruising and minor injuries. Now I in no way want to minimize what happened to this girl. It is truly horrendous, but I do think that it is astonishing that it made the national papers. I am sorry, but in my experience this must happen several times a DAY in North America, and it certainly doesn't even make the little local papers. Implies to me that the culture here is a good deal less tolerant of this kind of crap than back in N.A.
This however is a take on school bullying I never expected.
"...The justice system is also looking for ways to stop violence in schools. The public prosecutor at Andalusia’s High Court has made clear that attacks on teachers will be tried, if the case so warrants, as a crime rather than a mere misdemeanor.
The recent demonstration in Barcelona was organized by the Eduard Marquina school, where three members of its staff - the principal, the director of studies and a custodian - were attacked by a student’s family."
Glória Zaragoza, the director of studies who was assaulted, said that a student’s father “grabbed me by the neck while the mother encouraged him, shouting: ‘Kill her, kill her!’”
from the Barcelona Reporter
Please note, this is violence against teachers and school officials by the FAMILY! The kids don't dis each other here, they go after the adults WITH Mom and Dad. Good LORD!
Now, I have to confess that I have a few quirks left over from living on the boat, where our resources were extremely limited. I very strong feelings about wasting water and gas, and feel guilty if anything boils for a moment longer than necessary. This spills over in one way that I find fairly funny, and you will probably find bizarre to neurotic. It involves matches. We have a gas stove here that requires matches to light the burners. No problemo, we just pick them up at the local grocery store, the Condis. However, one time I went, they were only extra large matches, about two and a half times longer than your usual match. Now, by the time you've lit it, and lit the burner, you've only barely burned the tip of the match. There is about 2 inches of perfectly useful, albeit unlightable match left. I cannot bring myself to throw these out, especially since there are only about a third the matches in the box, so they will last only a third as long till I have to buy more. I know, how much do matches cost. But believe me, we are able to leverage our lifestyle out of our income by thinking about things like this. Fortunately the husband is with me on this, and doesn't look at me like I am insane. In boat life, this was ENTIRELY logical. We may not have even gotten to a store in time, and if we did, they might not have sold matches, so we would have done what I am doing here. After I have lit a match, and the stove, I blow out the match, then set it aside on the marble counter to wait. Then some time when I need to light another burner and I have one lit already, I just pick up one of these used babies, and off I go. Light the candles for the table too. I always feel faintly silly, but also justified. Weird I know.
My struggle to master Catalan continues, and I continue to discover interesting things about the language, and having done anthropology way back in university, I feel there is some reflection of the culture as well. For instance in Catalan there is a verb, esperar. It has two meanings, both to hope and to wait. You can see how this might be, but also why we might have separated them. In a manana culture, maybe all waiting requires hope? There is another quirk to Catalan. Like many romance languages, it has a masculine and feminine gender for nouns. Here's the quirk. In a fit of conservation - like me saving matches?- they have used the same word twice. Once masculine and once feminine with different meanings. This is done relatively often, and is quite the mine-field for the novice speaker, but here's an example. El planet (masculine) is a planet, like Earth or Mars. La planet is fate of fortune. My feminist side always feels the need to rise up and jeer/scream about some of these I'll confess. So we have the masculine. Solid, supporting life, and the feminine fickle dangerous and unpredictable. At least it makes it easier to remember which is which. Stereotypes anyone?
I have got to get some friends so I don't have such long posts.
I have been talking about the kid's school a lot lately, and a number of people who know that I have been homeschooling my kids for years, both on the boat - fairly obviously - and before, have e-mailed to ask why we have put the kids into school. So here is a brief answer. A lot of why we came here is to experience a new culture intimately, and this is best done through acquiring the language and integrating with the people. Beyond that, my husband is Catalan, and his family left here for Canada when he was four. He speaks Catalan, and it is what he spoke at home, and it is half of our children's heritage. They have a chance to know about where they came from, and they aren't going to learn about it sitting around the house with me. Finally, they need to make friends, and that will not happen unless they go to school. My understanding is that the homeschooling movement is practically non-existent here, and the English speaking home-schooling movement must be limited to about two kids, who just left it. We have also moved them around a lot, and while they made friends while we were on the boat, these are not people that we see very often. It will be nice for them to have friendships that last a little longer. The eldest just said today, that she thinks the kids here are nicer than at any of the schools she's been to in Canada, there is no boy/girl rivalry, and there don't appear to be the cliques that form, or at least she hasn't seen them yet. We'll see what high school is like if we're still here by then. I kind of hope we will.
Update on school. The little one is reasonably happy going to school, although she says she doesn't like her teacher, which is a shame, she went in all ready to LOVE her, and has been disappointed. She appears to be getting the special help four days a week like her sister now, and seems to be engaging with the work more. She likes is generally, but frequently states that she misses the boat. Several times a week in fact. This is a little hard for me to hear, as I do too, and I am sorry that we have upset her again, but I think that as she settles in here she will grow more content. She is also generally pretty happy with the other kids, and has commented that they really seem to like her, and she is part of the gang, which is not something that she ever felt in Canada.
The dreaded sheep heart dissection is over. THANK GOD. I wasn't sure I had more negotiating in me. Woke up this morning frankly dreading it. It was the first question she asked this morning and the subject of a long discussion at breakfast, in which we discussed the inherent hypocrisy in being willing to eat meat, but not face where it came from. Something many of us do, also the fact that as dissections go this is relatively humane, as unlike all those frogs and fish and worms that went under our amateur knifes, the animal has not died merely for our edification, which is a little sick in fact. I found the fetal pig I had to do in high-school fascinating, but also rather disturbing. There must be an industry out there producing them....
Anyway, it was scheduled for this afternoon, so she went off reasonably calmly this morning. Well heavens above, someone was in my corner, and hers. They did it first thing!!!! YEAH! She walked into the room with these pink glistening blobs, the teacher got right into it off the bat, apparently there was blood everywhere. The elder did not disgrace herself by fainting,barfing or weeping, and then, the heavens were with her too, she got pulled out to go to her special help group! How good is that! She came home and we had a blessedly peaceful lunch, no angst, negotiation, crying or fighting, just relaxed. And no, there is still no soap in the bathroom at school, even after I pointed it out. We have bought some to donate, but the eldest is too embarrassed to leave it there. Another topic to work our way through.
Now however it is the weekend, cap de setmana (Head of the week rather than weekend. Now which culture views leisure time as more important?). YEAH. We watched Fantasia, ate popcorn and chocolate, and the man and I had decaf mochas and popcorn. Life is good.