Sunday, September 30, 2007

A busy creative day...

I woke up this morning burning with ambition.....

First I made this lampshade for the new light....



Then hung these cloth pieces that I sewed onto the canvases yesterday. The man got involved here, cause it just seemed like fun to roust him out of his peaceful perusal of a book and have him do this with me....



Then I found this abandoned drawing by youngest...she had sketched the bather but didn't like it, I added to it, and we both quite like it now....



This one...meh....not finished. Most of it I really like, but the chair....it so sucks. Sucks even worse without the collaged coloured section. Needs massive revision, but bits are, in my humble opinion pretty good....



This is what the table looked like for most of the day....



This one I like a lot...if you are an avid reader, you may recognise the blue section as a part of an older painting I had written off as hopeless....I like it quite a lot now...touched it up then collaged it onto this....



Now I am off with the man to the local policia to report a stray dog...the three who attacked Chuck the other day showed up, one I know, one has a collar and one, the female, is stray. The policia alert the protectora...or dog catcher, and then she will hopefully eventually find a home, and stop attacking my dog.

Movie night tonight...here comes popcorn and cocoa. mmmmmmmm

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ummmm.

Our friends left today.

So sad.

We went to BCN which was lovely, I may say more later, and I have finally gotten all the supplies for the painting class.

Now THAT was fun.

Tomorrow we plan to do little. I have managed to get a photo I took blown up and framed...about 60 cm X 60 cm. Plus I bought stretched canvas to mount two pieces of fabric my parents brought back from China...I just sewed it onto the canvas. I'm bagged, so I think I'll show you tomorrow.



That's the photo I got enlarged and framed up. Love it.

Time for bed for me.....and read a bit more.

Fun and productive day anyway.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dogs and Schools

I didn't have time to post yesterday about my walk with the dog in the hills. We were contentedly trotting along with a nice strong cool headwind...Chuck was very interested in something he could smell further up ahead of us...on we went. My human and less astute senses finally found out what it was...three astoundingly enormous German shepherds. Loose. They came up to my waist with heads three times the size of mine easily.

Fun wow.

We went on, no problem, but then a bunch further down the road they appeared when Chuck was a bit behind me. I could hear him doing his whiney whiney let's make friends thing...the next thing I hear is the sounds of a raging dog fight.

Nasty words were spoken at this point, and it flashed through my mind that this would be a damn stupid way to die. Fortunately the dogs took off when I bellowed at them. I can sound pretty wildly aggressive when I want to, and I was fairly angry.

Chuck came running to me like I was the only thing between him and the devil, which isn't that far off....

He was basically OK, although there are a few spots on him he doesn't really want us to touch.

I am going to be getting myself a nice solid walking stick with an enormous spiky handle to it...a good underarm swing and that should rid me of most canine difficulties. I believe they were historically called a mace.

The other big news on this front is that I went into Barcelona to sign up for my Catalan lessons. I was slotted in level 2, which is great, and so I headed off extra early...waiting for the bus before the sun came up as it was a first come first serve situation....and there were only 20 spaces for my class. I arrived on sight 45 minutes early, figuring I was in for a good thing.

There were easily 350 people in line.

Easily.

I asked the guys in the front of the cue when they had gotten there. 9pm the night before. Holy cow...for Catalan lessons!

I nearly left right then, but the lovely ladies in the line around me said, "No, stay with us, we'll chat and have fun, and who knows...maybe you'll make it." I figured, what the heck, I can only not get in, so I waited and waited. An hour and a half later I was able to see the doorway in.

Guess what? Go on....

I GOT IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

So now every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning I have to head off to study....I will try not to post too much grammar. I promise I'll try. The course is an intensive, every day of the week, but I have to teach Tuesdays and Thursdays so it is going to be a struggle to keep up, but if the teacher is willing and lets me know what she is going to cover the next day I can ask around here about it.

*huge sigh of relief*

*gasp or horror at the work*

It'll be good.

We're having a fancy dinner tonight, it is our friends' last night and they are cooking up a storm. How good is that? Plus we invited a friend from town over and she is making desert! I'm having a dinner party and I don't have to cook!!!!

I am not quite sure how that happened, but I cannot say I mind.

Plus our delightful guests found us a knife sharpener, which we desperately needed, and look what they made for us................




We had no light over the dinner table, so this is what he put together for us! He got the fixture and wires and hooked it up, and made a shade for us with the kids for the time being. It is made from an old olive oil bottle tastefully decorated by youngest. I have thoughts for another shade. Plans plans plans.....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

BCN for the day

Went to BCN today and saw these masks in a store....







Aren't they amazing? I didn't take a picture of the condom store next door...

These shoes, worth about $200, I find sincerely U.G.L.Y.




Blech.

Feeling a bit better, but not all the way there....

Tired.

G'night.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quick post

Very tired...woke up in the night with one almighty awful bladder infection. There aren't you charmed to know that? I was fine when I went to bed. Anywhooooo, since I had the big test today, I took myself off to our local medical center (2 blocks away) which is open 24 hours a day!

A burly kinda guy opened the door reluctantly after I rang the bell, which I may add sounded like a freaking fire alarm. Guess some of those folks sleep soundly. I talked to him for a while. Man, or HOMBRE, is my Catalan crap at 5am when I am not very well, especially since he only spoke Spanish....Finally he asked me the same thing three times...I eventually interpreted it as "Do I want to see a Doctor?" Well, what the hell do you think I am doing at 5am in the rain? Just thought I'd come over for a chat about my slightly gross internal problems with a complete stranger with whom I can only barely communicate?

I bit back the sour comment and stuck with 'si, si'us plau' Yes please.

He kindly ignored the fact that my temporary health card expired about 8 months ago and I went up to where I found a Dr, also only Spanish speaking and with what was frankly an adorably appalling case of bed head. Like little boys get.

Tests done, prescription given, and I am sent over to the farmacia which also will provide on demand all night long. (Don't go there, I know what your thinking)

I did however feel bad about wrenching someone out of their bed at 5:45 am when I was not in agony, so I stood around for about 20 minutes in case the Doctor had phoned for me. In the rain. One of the realities of not speaking the language well, miss one vowel and you aren't sure who is supposed to do the calling.

Bed.

The man called them around 7:30, pharmacist showed up by 7:50, home by 8am.



The language test:

Seems my oral language skills were in level two of five, which when I read the requirements seemed about right. Lets hope I didn't trash out on the written component. I was a bit of a mess heading out after the mornings to-do though. I managed to forget my passport, though it turns out I didn't need it. I also forgot any sort of writting utensil. I mean really how stupid is that, what was I thinking? I'd write it in spit? Clearly I wasn't thinking at all.

I have to enroll on Friday morning at 9am. First come first served. I anticipate getting there shortly after 8am if I can.

*Groan*

Gotta walk the dog now, and our friends come back sometimes tonight.

I nearly finished another piece of painting/multi-media. It is currently drying under weights...we'll have to see what I think when it is done.

Maybe I'll post a pic if I think it is OK.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Food and grammar. Sorry.



It may be hard to believe, but I got tired of absolutely fresh crusty white bread, so felt compelled to make up this mess of kasha, or buckwheat groats as some people call them with fried onions and shallots (does anything smell better?)plus a couple of fried eggs, some peppers cut up...I so like the ones here, they are long and thin and the not nearly as meaty as the N. American ones, but they have such a lovely punchy flavour and the cupboard smells glorious when I open it, plus tomatoes from a garden! They grew in the GROUND! I had to wash DIRT off them. Boy do they taste good.

That was lunch.

The other thing that I discovered today is that past simple in English isn't. That is it isn't simple.

I walked seems straight forward, but all those regular past participles? Some of them we pronounce 'ed', some like a 't' for instance walked, and some like just a 'd'. Then there is using them. I walked to the store. A positive statement, but what if that is not what happened? I didn't walk to the store. An entire auxiliary verb appears, in the past and the main verb goes back into it's basic present form.

A question...Did I walk to the store? Auxiliary verb in past, changed word order, then the verb in normal mode. Yes, I did..Where the heck did that verb go anyway?

Then you have 'to be' like we never use that...I was, you were, he was she was etc...and in the negative? I wasn't. Question...Was I? Where did that auxiliary verb go and WHY?

Then finally, you've got to love this...Did I do that? No I didn't, you did that. Would that the the auxiliary or the main verb. How can you have an auxiliary that is the same as the main verb anyway. It just isn't FAIR.

Poor things.

Poor you for having to read all that. Sorry. The test is tomorrow, maybe I will stop harping on about grammatical forms after that.

Wish me luck. (Not Basic 1....PLEASE)

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm not sure what all....

It's sign up time for all the extracurricular activities here...today I got eldest enrolled in the local theater class for 11 - 14 year olds, and both of them are mostly enrolled in the painting class being offered in town, me too!!!! I've met the teacher, got the shopping list and I just have to hand in the form tomorrow.

The teacher didn't mind that I have to leave an hour early to get to work teaching English, which is very kind of her, and so I am off on Monday for my first painting class since I was 18!!!

*girlish gleeful squeals*

I am also studying hard (not hard enough but I am not sure that you ever can) for my big Catalan assessment test on Wednesday morning. Gack. I just don't want to end up in beginner one. I like to think that in the last ten months I have made some advances in my Catalan and I don't have to go right back to the days of the week -dillunes, dimarts, dimecres, dijous, divendres, dissabtes i diuminge - and the months of the year which I won't list, and I can hear the thanks.

Anywhooo, even if I am in basic one *sob* it will still be Catalan pouring into my rattling empty head, so that will still be good. I am currently understanding about 50% of what is said to me, not the words, but the general gist, and I am getting to the same level of marginal understanding/misunderstanding that I achieved last year but they don't have to repeat it so damn often now, so I think I am continuing to improve. The Catalan language painting course should be fun too. yahooooo!!! The teacher seems very nice and is very funny and enthusiastic and talks with her whole body, very animated which definitely helps me...a burnt sienna paint here is sienna tostada! Gotta love it, though I think that is Castillian, it would be sienna crema in Catalan. I think.

The English classes I am teaching are going somewhat more smoothly, partially because the students are more used to being in school and partially because I have successfully established my witch credentials giving myself more authority in the room; though the kids continue to teach me interesting vocabulary. *sigh* Not vocab I can use though.

I should go study, I have been looking at the declinations of adjectives in the masculine/feminine and singular and plural. Some have two declinations a singular and plural, not too bad, add an s, some have three and some vary in every seperate group giving them a full four different forms. *gentle weeping* Most are regular, but get this one...automatic, automatica, automatics, automatigues...this doesn't include the accent that appears and disappears over the second a for no apparent reason.

Enough, that one isn't too bad, I can figure out the meaning, some aren't in my dictionary even. Fun wow. Though on a good note, I also now have two women lined up with whom I am trading English and Catalan lessons, so there's a little more as well. With any luck that will get me to approximately 7 hours of Catalan instruction/practice a week, aside from trying to enroll in painting classes, etc.

'nuff said.

Hope you all had a decent day, better yet, hope it was great.

Happy Birthday Mom, Love ya tons.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Flowers and books and education.



Those four flowers all came from the same bush growing wild in an alley strewn with dog crap and old bricks. They are lovely and smell lovelier, but the thing that amazed me most is that from the one same bush there were yellow flowers, yellow flowers blushed with pink, divided pink and yellow flowers and all pink. Now I am no agriculturist, city girl that I am, but how can it do that?

I have been reading Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb. It is enthralling. I cannot say that I am loving it, it is not that sort of book. Not comfortable enough, but it is the story of a woman who is forever between cultures, and a refugee for ever, and her friends and her religion, as well as the refugee experience of trying to enter a new and not necessary welcome or welcoming society.

Enthralling.

Youngest complained that she had to go to school and that my time spent doing errands was preferable. I think she regretted the comment after I discussed my inability to get a PhD off the ground, the fact that I cannot take the painting class offered in town as I have to work, the same with the Castillian class I am trying to set up, and I may not get to the Catalan class I am trying to put together either. The joys of doing groceries every other day just don't quite add up. Grrrrr.

Finally a shot of our noble fly-hunting breakfast-stealing pooch.



Dorky Dad gave me a shout out that makes me feel I should take a photo of some food, but I am not sure quite what to do about it right now....maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I think Blogger video worked!

Turn the sound on folks.

video

Did ya like that? It was pretty cool. OK I know. It's supposed to be a MOVING picture, and that just didn't move beyond my shaky camera work, but I was really trying to record the bells that were ringing right over our heads it was quite an overwhelming experience.

We were off to Montserrat today, about time too. Major tourist destination as it is essentially the spiritual home of Catalunya, and many women here are called Montserrat, usually shortened to Montse. The major site there officially is the Black Madonna, who was surprisingly beautiful. Carved in the 12th century they think. It was a very long line to get in, which was fine, then it was raining when we got out which scuppered our plans for going for a long walk on the mountain there which is beautiful. I am told. We had a big fat wet cloud sitting on it all, so we went for a short damp walk, then it started to rain and we bailed.

Lots of travel time and little time there, but what we spent was nice and we are going to go back again just to walk in the hills. Click here for a bit of what it looks like. Indeed if you Google Image Montserrat you'll get to see more than we did.

Hmmm, let see if I have any more photos....

Yup, found a couple kind of worth looking at in the camera....lets see....

A view on the way up...what it would be like on a clearer day......


Eldest's favorite part of the facade of the basilica....youngest snapped the shot...


The clearest part of the walk. There would have been spectacular views. We saw white clouds. Not worth posting frankly.


Cafe amb llet to warm up with. He really did this too! I didn't find it on the internet. Mine didn't turn out so pretty, this is the man's. Maybe decaf doesn't work?


See ya. Hope your day went well.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just sayin'

These are the numbers for some of the Man Booker prize nominees. Copies of books sold to Aug 18, before the announcement I assume:

Ian McEwan (published in April) had sold 99,660 copies
Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist (March) had sold 1,519 copies
Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip (June) 880 copies
Anne Enright's The Gathering (May) 834 copies.
Indra Sinha's Animal's People (March) a mere 231 copies

These are great authors writing great -though probably depressing- books.

Here's the weird and scary thing. How many of you bloggers get more readers a DAY than Indra Sinha, let alone a week. I am at about the week mark when it's going well.

Is blog writing under-rated?

These people put a year of their lives into these books or more. Do we?

No one said we are making art here, but still....

Just thinking.

Friday night is a crap time to teach teenagers. Picture me with the whip and the chair in a room full of tired hungry hormonal lions and lionesses. No wonder I took on the mafia on Las Ramblas.

Shit they were easy, and I only had to be nice enough I didn't get hit.

I felt better after the decaf mocha I made myself. Sip, read, pat the dog. It all ebbed away.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

*whew* quite a day...or my brush with the criminal underworld.




Look what you can get yourself in Barcelona!!!

The sign actually made me laugh pretty hard, it is in fact a used clothing store, explaining what a pimp was to the girls was a little less funny though.

I had a bit of a mix up on Las Ramblas today with some rather unsavory characters today, an older woman, obviously a tourist was being bullied by a guy, I stepped in and his three friends materialised out of the crowd, which escalated things a bit. This is a typical system for picking pockets. They get one person busy and lift the other's wallet, the man was probably the target. I continued to be rather pushy, got called a name or two, not nice ones, but she left with her wallet and purse intact and the crowd that formed melted away. Don't know if the man still had his wallet, but the guys were pretty busy hassling me, so he probably did. The girls were a mite freaked out by it all.

If you ever come to Las Ramblas and you are stupid enough to mix it up with the hard looking men that run those three boxes/one ball 'coconut shisies' thing, don't expect anyone to help you out. They were at best gullible. Though I am honestly not sure what exactly was going on, she didn't speak English but those guys were deeply unfriendly and quite aggressive. Never seen anything quite like that before.

The day improved though because the girls and I were in Barcelona to meet up with my SISTER!!! YEAH!!!! She was there for one day only and could get part of it off from work, so we met up at 2:30 or so and had some paella, and ice cream and a lovely time hanging out...then we had to come back home because I had to work. Ah well.

It was very strange, but very fun. Spend an hour and a half together in this city, and then she was gone again.

Taught two classes, one was kind of fun, and one was a drag. I had to be such a witch. It so sucked.

Time for bed.

Tomorrow, walk the dog, study Catalan in anticipation of my placement test next week, NAP, and teach just a little bit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BAD DOG

OK, this one is not nearly as bad as when he chewed up my shoe...in fact I found this kind of funny.

I had dished out my breakfast, crusty white bread with some delicious tomato sauce our guests had made last night, then I felt the call of nature, and - silly me - I left my breakfast on the table. Clearly an invitation to doggie gluttony.

While otherwise engaged I could hear my chair being moved and my cutlery clattering about.

Hmmm I thought, what could that be? The kids aren't up, the guests aren't up, and the man has left for work. Let me think...?

By the time I got out there, this is what I saw....



Along side of a rather content, chop-licking dogalicious who really didn't look all that guilty, though he skulked away from me.

Why is it that he was able to get the bread to land right way up on the floor? He's a dog for crying out loud, he used his MOUTH, yet for me, it always lands wrong way up?

He was banished to the bedroom with some rather half-hearted no's. I did find it humourous. He even had the temerity to bark at me to let him out, as if I might have forgotten why I had put him in there or I had made some kind of a mistake.

BAD DOG.

You can actually see him weighing out the cost/benefit of stealing food.

Hmmmm, good food....

Being yelled at....

Good food....

Being yelled at....they would never beat me senseless like my previous owners, soooooooo

Good food it is.

Scrunch, yum.

Bad dog.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Barcelona and a wedgie

When our friends arrived we had a lovely dinner of local meats and cheeses, fresh bread from our local bakery, plus the local Cava - or champagne. The Catalans drink this at the drop of a hat. Oh! It's the third anniversary since I bought my purple bikini! Lets have some Cava!

This bottle looks uncomfy though don't you think?

It didn't have the usual cage, instead this is the ultimate wedgie.

*cringe*



We also went off the the Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera with our buds, we brought drawing books. This is one of the guest's efforts from the top of the Pedrera...



Eldest was inspired by all the lizards and dragons on the Sagrada Familia....



Youngest's oevre from the top of the Pedrera....



And a photo of the roof for you from the bumph we got so you can compare.



It's an amazing place. If you get the chance to go, it is well worth it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Toilet humour

You know how I mentioned that we have friends over now.....???

They are a bad influence.

Check out what they sourced for us....



Not that I'm sayin' anything, ya know?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Friends!!!

We've got friend's visiting now, cruising buddies from the States. They got in today...I went out to Placa Catalunya to meet them off the airport bus. Unfortunately their flight was delayed, and I had no way of finding out how long.

I got to do about four hours of people watching. It was interesting, some of the time

I saw a full grown woman go by, apparently sane and normal, wearing a pink plastic tiara with a heart on the front. Her boyfriend had a pierce going horizontally through the skin over his spine, right at the back of his neck where that one vertebrae sticks out more. Now there is a pierce that would alarm me.

There were some really big tourists, plus lots and lots of groups of twenty somethings.

Back packers are not really taking in the spirit of minimalism these days. I went around the world in a knapsack like you take to school. There were people I saw with those big camping packs back then, and I always thought they looked like luggage with legs. Now though they seem to have small knapsacks on their fronts, plus water bottles, cameras and frequently purse type jobs. I remember swearing about the weight of my bag, and it was REALLY small, I cannot imagine they are having much fun hauling all that stuff. What have they got in there anyway?

Lots of cops. Good considering the number of pick-pockets people claim there are.

The line for the tourist bus must have been about 300 people long. What's wrong with the metro people?

It is amazing the number of people who open their luggage right there on the sidewalk where you get off the bus. I mean really, no wonder there are so many pick pockets. Heavens above, I was tempted it would have been so simple.

There are some amazing tattoos out there too. I saw one girl with a tattoo of some form in that soft lower part of your belly just where your trousers cover, or would cover if they were not these ultra low pants that require both the guys and the girls to use neat to remove their pubic hair. Really if your 18 year old son is buying neat, that's why. Oh my goodness. None of the guys I knew at that age would have even thought of considering something like that. Then again maybe I am a dinosaur.

Our friends are having a nap now, and I am resting in the cool of the apartment after four hours standing in the sun at Placa Catalunya waiting. The girls, the man and the dog are off in the hills.

Good thing I brought a book.

Friday, September 14, 2007

feeling weak

Just having one of those days.

Going to bed now.

It's better that way.

You know what?

Teenagers at English class that they don't want to take are really difficult to teach by 5:45 on a Friday.

'night.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rotten potato

I hauled a bag of potatoes home yesterday, then all of a sudden there is this foul smell coming from one of the cupboards. Took me a moment to figure that out, but yes indeed, one of them was rotten

Man oh man, there isn't much that smells worse than a slimy oozing rotten potato

*gag*

Scrubbed the rest and sat them out in the sun.


EEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

*sheesh* that was nasty.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Books

Gonna talk books here, I have been having a delightful time reading and this is what I have been getting through since we got here....

The Ladies Lending Library by Janice Kulyk Keefer given to me most appropriately by Beth over at Booksetc when we got together this summer

Now this was a good book. Simply put. There were elements to it I didn't relate to directly, the immigrant experience - I haven't been here long enough - nor the cottaging thing, but the relationships and the development of the characters over the course of this summer was fascinating to read. Some of it rang so true as well. The author did a good job managing to maintain a sympathetic response to the many points of view from which the book is taken which is again quite a literary challenge that she handled well.

Thanks Beth. I loved it.


Next up was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This one was given to me by none other than Nomad. Lovely group of blogging buddies, eh? This seems to be a book that is doing pretty well, I have seen it in a number of people's hands, and I can see why. It has a lot, travel, love hardship, food, God, willfully transforming your life, and it is well written to boot. I truly enjoyed this, the woman emerges from a very difficult divorce, goes to Italy to eat for four months, how harsh is that? Then India to pray and meditate for four months, which would be fascinating in a post-child life. I can't picture the husband getting into that either for that matter....then she goes on to Bali, and I will say no more. I did find that the final third of the book in Bali was less compelling, it read more like a journal rather than a series of vignettes or stories as the earlier sections managed. This may well be as this section was the latest, nearest and therefore the least processed of the three legs of her voyage, but it has an unpolished feel to it that the other sections do not, to their benefit.

That said, it was a great book, and inspirational on all sorts of levels, especially if you are curious, open-minded and love to travel.

So good. Thanks Nomad.

One I have been reading with the kids is "Does My Head Look Fat In This?" by Randa Abdel-Fattah, it is a story written from the perspective of an Australian Muslim girl who is choosing to wear the hijab at school, and what she encounters as she does this in a post 9/11 world. She is funny, laugh out loud put down the drink and hope you don't snort it out your nose funny, in places, and true and sincere and utterly believable. It is also hilarious reading it with my kids, as the main character's comments about her parents sound pretty kooky coming out of my mouth. She refers to her parent's lectures by title as in, "so then they ran the 'I've been on the planet longer than you have' lecture..." which I run past my kids now and then too....maybe I should just reference the lecture title and not bother with anything else as well....?

Great book on every level, she manages to talk about racism, insensitivity, the reality of some high-school politics, crushes and dating in a real, funny and accessible way without being the least bit condescending. So good. This was also a gift too, from one of the women I worked with this summer, thank you very much, we're loving it.

The book I am tackling now is Snow flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, again a gift from the same woman as above, which is also so far, fantastic, although there are several pages when the main character and her friends are getting their feet bound that made me positively squirm. Seriously, not much does, but this was simply horrifying.

I am finding the book absolutely compelling, I love the setting and the feeling that I am learning about a part of the world and a time that I know little about, as well as enjoying a beautifully told tale of the girls and women who lived there. There is some extremely heavy-handed foreshadowing about some of the disasters that are coming up, which is making me feel a little less enthusiastic especially as it hasn't exactly been a picnic so far, but.....

One of the tidbits I loved about this book is that she maintains that in some regions of China there was a secret women's language, with it's own script as well, which was used to allow women to communicate with each other even when they were so profoundly helpless and powerless. This is a novel, so I am not sure whether such a language really existed, but I love the idea anyway....a good read so far, not sure about where it is going. The squeamish should skip a page or too.

Whew

If you made it all the way through that,

well,

I'm impressed.

The first day of school seems to have gone well, the girls made dinner, but I had to work, so no photo-documentary. Sorry.

Work was chaotic, and I had to get them to re-do my schedule as I was working 5 nights a week. I am still working every night, but the schedule is better now, at the ends and beginnings of the evening, so I will still see the kids and the man.

That matters.

Cheers for now.

I keep feeling like I should sign these like a letter.

Weird.

So here goes,

Cheers, hope your day went well,

Oreneta

Bull riding.

I am as usual doing five or six things at once....dishes, making cocoa, uploading photos, reading a book, writing out the grocery list, market list and morning market list along with the menu ideas for the week. The girls are cooking tomorrow night....rainbow coleslaw, macaroni minestrone with fresh crusty bread and chocolate truffles. I'll be the photo-journalist.

Do any of you do menus for the week? It seems labour intensive, but I have done it off and on for years. It keeps us from making the same damn things over and over again. One evening or morning when I am hungry, I search out what I want to eat that week, and divide it out over the days of the week, making a semblance of effort to follow the food guide. The grocery list is made simultaneously. Then when the family is screaming from hunger and I am hot and tired, I don't have to stand in the kitchen scratching my head and staring at the cupboards blankly wondering WTF I am going to make for dinner. It also helps to keep the man's menu varied. He is a great and wonderful man. He is a fantastic cook. He cooks often and willingly. He makes the same dishes over and over and over till we go blue and groan at the sight of them. With the little fancy menu thing, he has ideas. I even write the page number and the cookbook name next to the recipe, and he knows he may mess up my plans if he wings it, bringing the wrath or a thwarted wife with screaming children down upon him. The system works. Sometimes.

So far I have planned bacon wrapped dates stuffed with almonds, and thyme and garlic soup. The girls are cooking again on Saturday, and as we have no fridge, I only plan a few days ahead. Obviously this needs some fleshing out, but I have shifted to blogger mode and will finish the menu in a bit.

This system is also a great cost saver. Make the list and the menu when you are hungry, it's easy and EVERYTHING looks good. Shop full and stick to the freakin' list.

Anywhooooo,

The grapes around here are looking good aren't they?




Today is a special day. The Catalans have been making a big deal out of September 11th for about 700 years. Nothing to do with NYC. Today marks the 761st (?????) anniversary of the destruction of the Catalan nation by those Castilians in Madrid. We all got the day off and hung out flags. There was also a kid's fair in the local September 11th park, complete with bouncy castles - very traditional I am sure, and this:



I don't think you can see the American Flag on the mat around the kid. They move it very sloooowwwwlyyyy. It struck me as truly bizarre the first time I saw it, but this year I realised that there is an extra level to this beyond what my N. American eyes might initially grasp. The Catalan national animal, used on symbols all over the place is the burro, or donkey. Yup, stubborn hard working types. The Castillian symbol is the bull. Lets not go there with the bull fighting imagery, OK? Anyway, this here Catalan kid is riding the bejeesus out of this Castillian bull, no? Symbolism, you can see it everywhere.

One of the traditions is to hang the Catalan flag everywhere. The flag is a very practical design, you can buy it by the yard. Well, meter actually.



Here's one for the Texans, the Catalans also seem to think of themselves as the lone star state, well, nation, but that ain't all that different either is it?



Been doing still more painting..... here's one, that is done and I think I like,



And a second I completed today, this I thought worked out not too badly. What a blast.



Tomorrow is the first day of school. That'll be a shocker.

Poor things.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Here's what I've been doing....

Walking the dog in the hills.....



Walking in Barcelona with the girls and the man.....



Doing some watercolours.....I like this one, it's kooky, and I think I may leave it alone from here...



This I may leave alone because I don't think it is working AT ALL....



Not finished yet....



AN exercise in colour gradations that may become a card....
Kinda funky hippy chick card.....



Not finished yet.....
Turning out only OK so far, I may be able to save it....
or not.



This I did not like at the drawing stage, but it's growing on me....
not finished yet....



I'm having fun though.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I feel like Julie-flippin'-Andrews....."The hills are alive.....

You know what I love about being back here?

I love that my space bar has fixed itself

I love that kids hold their parents hands when they walk down the street.

I love that whole families hold hands when they walk down the street.

I love that there is time and space to enjoy simple things deeply, and that this is valued.

I love being with my family.

I love having the mountains nearby and that I can go there and be in a beautiful peaceful place every day.

I love that I can eat wonderful food, that there are beautiful flowers in the hills.

I love that I can make the biggest freaking fool of myself all the time, and people just laugh.

I love how happy everyone seems to be to see us.

I love that I imitated a turkey today in the busy central cafe/bar/restaurant today in a conversation with a group of strangers and people we know and I didn't even think it was strange and hilarious till later, gobble gobble gobble....

I love that this older guy came up and talked to us persistently and slowly in Castillian, because I am so obviously a stranger. Twice. The first time about the fact that the kids are eating and will therefore grow. (There must have been more to the conversation than this, but that was all I got out of it)

I love that the second time this guy with his crony, who together could have looked like anyone who ever made you nervous about small time Mafiosos, then had a second conversation with me, which involved pointing to youngest, both of them making that finger across the throat gonna kill you gesture, then making gestures for something small and talking about the day after tomorrow. I never even thought to be worried by the fact that these guys apparently wanted to off youngest on Tuesday and cut her into small pieces. It was indeed over the course of this mystifying conversation that I performed my turkey imitation. Slightly before this I finally got the guy to talk to the husband who has a faint understanding of Spanish....we realised he was taking about baby chicks he was going to buy on Tuesday to feed up so they will grow and he can kill them and eat them for Christmas.

I love that I had that freaky conversation today, and how weird it could have looked.

I love that I have read two books in the last two days.

I love that I went into work, one woman is pregnant after years of trying, another is pregnant, further along and looking very happy, a third woman looks relaxed and content.

I love that they don't know the schedule yet, it was the last working day before we start, but that's OK, we'll just get it going.

I love that most of the students passed their exams, even one of mine who I thought had no hope and must have done some serious church going before that test.

I love that my sculptor-English student found all the work useful this summer when his work was on tour and wants to keep going. He's fun to teach and so...quick.

I love that I am back with my watercolours and got a chance to use them today.

I love how happy the dog is running in the hills.

I love that I could go on longer.

But I won't. It's 2:24 am local time, and I am still all messed up with ehrn I should be sleeping. Back to bed.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Clips of the day

Thankfully today I have had enough sleep that I once again understand Catalan, reasonably well, and can mutter my way through....

I went for a walk with Chuck, and picked some of these....sorry for the blurry photo




And one of these....please look carefully, that isn't an apple...



Youngest got cooking. She made Tiramisu, here she is half way through...



And the finished product....



Delicious, but so sweet and fatty I could only have about one mouthful.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Drier lint

Sorry for the long delay...by the time we got here on Thursday, we were pretty thoroughly destroyed. Yesterday was spent running errands, and I discovered where all the dryer lint in the universe had gone...it was inhabiting my brain pan and jiggling gently. I swear to you that was all that was up there, and Catalan, what the hell is that? Could not understand a single freaking word. Well, one or two but Honest to God...

And the space bar on this computer has mysteriously gotten sticky...boy oh boy is that making me happy. Half of this post is coming out as one big fat sentence. Anyone out there know what to do about this? Don't tell me to take the key off though, I had a problem with a control key, looked it upon line, they told me to take another key off to see how they are assembled, and then replace them both. NEVER DO THIS. I now am missing both the control key and the alt key next to it. I hate this space bar really really badly.

Anyway, the kids are fine, they got their new school books, boy was that ever pricey. Youngest has a different teacher, the old English teacher. Our only challenge will be to make sure that she doesn't just talk to her in English. That said, she had a buddy over yesterday, and she was chattering away in appalling Catalan, even lint-head here could have done better, but she was having fun and making herself understood, so there is hope, and I don't have to shift her to another school.

I have been debating what to do about eldest's approaching debut at the high school in town. Next year. This is a full on 12 through 18 years old high school, population around 2500 which is making my toes curl under and my belly wobble to think about. The plus for this place, her friends will go there, and it will all be local kids.

That's it. It is big, even by my city standards, and the thought of my baby walking in the door there makes me go weak. Eeeeekkkkk. Her language skills will not be up to the mark, and from what I have heard, the teachers accept what the kids give them without pushing for more. Not quite as supportive an environment as maybe I would hope for.

There is however also another private (semi-subsidised) school in the town that goes through to 16. Advantages? Smaller and she would get more attention, plus there is a stronger emphasis on academics. Negative, none of her friends go there, and the kids there have been together since kindergarten, although I teach a bunch of them English and I think that they would be as nice as the kids at the current school. Good group of kids. The other disadvantage is that some of them come from neighbouring communities, not all local. This makes getting together with your buddies tricky. We'll look into the school and see, but next year she has to move on.

Just want to do the best we can for her.

Coming soon, the flight from H-E-double-hockey sticks.........

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bagged bag.

Read it. Loved it. I was a bit uncomfortable about some aspects of the ending, but loved it.

I am now ready to slip into a Potter induced, too much time spent saying goodbye, running errands, cleaning and packing coma.

We fly tomorrow and arrive in BCN on Thursday, so there may be a lag of a couple of days while we get this done.

May add more, or I may not, we'll just have to see.

Cheers.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Readin' readin' readin, watch that girl a-readin' ...raw eyes....

The pressure is off, my cousin came through with the book

YYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

so I don't need to get it done by Wednesday, but having started........

Eldest is however absent with a nose in a book, she's here, but she's not really here...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I've got it, for a few days

I got a copy of book 7!!!

Only till I go though, so I am preparing to sleep little and neglect my entire family while I read it.

Bye bye

*yawn*

I was up way way way too late last night, but for company I had Barbara (god I love her writing) Kingsoliver. Now that was a lovely evening. I was reading Prodigal Summer which is arguably her very best book, although I tend to think that after every book of hers I read. That said, the Poisonwood Bible I didn't adore, but this book.....

It is so good.

With her usual brilliant prose she has managed to interweave the stories of three groups of people and the animals and woods and lives they lead in an empathic, loving, intertwining, multi-faceted, delicate and intricate touch.

The stories are all lovely, about people who need and meet their needs, about the animal-ness of humans, and the human-ness, about all of our interdependence, not just as humans, or within humans.

This is a lovely book, beautifully written, many layered, richly textured and intensely beautiful.

I finished it this morning. The only sad thing about a great book is when you finish it.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Jangle jangle twitch twitch

We went out for dinner tonight with my sister in law and a bunch of friends to what the kids call the 'soup store'. It is actually Pho Hung, on Spadina between College and Dundas, on the west side right beside the statue with the cat on the chair. I had my second coffee of the day there at about 8:30 at night, espresso with sweetened condensed milk over ice. MMMMMMmmmmmmm

I am however rather jittery now, and I anticipate a rather late and restless night.


*jigglejiggle twitch twitch*

It was so yummy though, I put my head in the lions jaw of crankiness and exhaustion willingly...I pity the children tomorrow.

Naw, I'll have a nap sometime, it should help.