Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year everyone!

From Barcelona Blog

Most people of Barcelona will start the night with a private dinner often with family or the closest circle of friends, have a few drinks and eat twelve grapes at midnight, all at the same time, for luck. After this we will all head out.
Most local bars will open late, often after midnight and instead stay open until 6 am in the morning. Clubs are open all night and some until 4 pm tomorrow afternoon.

Honestly, rather them than me....far too exhausting. I am good for the first half...and we'll be eating the grapes...I think you have good luck if you don't choke to death on them....

We visited the Marmottan Museum....and saw lots and lots of these:





Went up to Montmartre amidst enormous crowds and walked back. Went past the Presidential Palace too...some security they have there.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope it's a good one for us all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paris day 1

Notes from today....

My sister's apartment has a million light switches that do nothing at all.  I think it must be a ploy by the landlords to make it look like there is more lights than there are.

My sister's apartment also has weird doors that go into rooms that aready have lots of doors in them....sort of redundancy for the redundancy...

We bought a lumber jacket for my husband...you know a scarb jacket...in PARIS!!!  

Is is just me, or does that seem hilariously warped and weird...they are selling these jackets in one of the most modern of modern art galleries....

The kids like modern video installations best I think.....

Some village somewhere in England has an even crazier tradition than correfoc...they carry flaming barrels of tar on their backs around the town....wow.

They also had a video of Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust era....the kids were amazed and debated whether he was a man or a woman...


Funniest line of the day from Youngest in a modern art museum.....

"Is that a bench or art?  Can I sit on it?"


Monday, December 29, 2008

Weeeeee

We're in Paris!!!!!

and we're eating white trash food!

Woohoooo.

We arrived here, had croissants and cafe au lait, saw the Arc de Triomphe, then we got to my sisters place where we've cooked up lunch: noodles with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup for a sauce. Undiluted...



AH, the tastes of Paris.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

*snort*

Jenni Murray in the Observer, UK.

I suspect it begins in the delivery suite where a male is greeted with: "Ah, a big, strong boy" and a female with: "Oh, what a sweet, little girl." And on it goes, forever after. Girls still learn that caution, co-operation and negotiation are generally acceptable ways to carry on. Boys get away with pushing all the buttons or seeing who can pee the highest over the fence with an infinitely forgiving: "Ah well, boys will be boys."

And thus we come to the credit crunch. It was, according to one former, female, City trader of my acquaintance, the boys will be boys syndrome writ large. "Dicks on the table," was how she put it. Rather indelicately, I thought, but then she had tried to survive three years of "learning the lads' lingo".

She didn't muster much sympathy for her former colleagues as they were ordered to empty their desks. "I told them so," was all she had to say.

Which is pretty much what happened in Iceland. Halla Tómasdóttir runs the only financial company still recruiting after the disaster that saw three Icelandic banks nationalised and the country effectively squeezed out of the foreign exchange markets. It has long been her practice to employ mainly women. She warned the premier, six months before the crisis, that a financial model, run by a young, male elite and based on bonus-driven risk-taking and aggressive international expansion, was unsustainable.

The lesson appears to have been learnt, albeit too late for those charities whose hard-earned funds have been put in serious jeopardy. Two women have been appointed as chief executives of the two biggest banks. One government official was reported to have said: "Now the women are taking over. It's typical - the men make the mess and the women come in to clean it up."

.....OH......

You should go and see this video.

Friday, December 26, 2008

99 things meme

Found this on Stephen Downe's site, and like him, I just kind of felt like doing it.

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

I have to say that the font thing is a big fat hassle, you may want to skip that.

1. Started your own blog. Yes.
2. Slept under the stars. Slept in tents and on boats, but never out in the wide open with dew on my face in the morning....not sure I want that.
3. Played in a band. Never.
4. Visited Hawaii. Yes, one week, at the worst hotel I have ever been to and then the YWCA, a major improvement. I learned that if you arrive late in a city without a reservation, LIE.
5. Watched a meteor shower. Many many times, most memorably in Colorado one late dark night at high altitude with the man.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Not that I can think of, which is kind of embarrassing honestly.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. Yes, as a child when I was scared witless by the haunted house, as a teen and in my twenties...each time different, I am looking forward to taking the kids. NOT to Eurodisney ever if I can help it.
8. Climbed a mountain. Yes indeed, never any that might have required mountain rescue or anything, but many...notably Mount Sinai in time for the sun to come up.
9. Held a praying mantis. No, inspected them at close range, but never held one, and I don't see the need to bug them.
10. Sang a solo. Many times. Most often with little kids, but I sing everywhere, much to the intense embarrassment of Eldest, most recently in Caixa Forum in Barcelona in a fascinating piece of installation art...a room entirely lined with lead....it had marvelous acoustics. Made anyone sound amazing.
11. Bungee jumped. No. Done lots of things like that, and I would consider it, but I generally think that if a sport requires duct tape to keep your clothing on...I'm not so sure.
12. Visited Paris. Yep, and going again next week.
13. Watched a lightening storm at sea. Yes. It was a terrible experience every time. Hate lightning when I am on a boat.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. This doesn't say levels of skill achieved and says taught yourself. I don't honestly know how many folks are truly auto-didacts, but I guess we could say yes, with some of the painting work I am doing...then there is the art of knot tying...sounds silly, but there are some lovely ornamental knots....
15. Adopted a child. Nope nope nope. Two is plenty.
16. Had food poisoning. Sadly yes. Horrible.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. No, but I sailed past it.
18. Grown your own vegetables. Yes, never very much, but yes.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Yep, good thing I'm tall, the crowd is prodigious.
20. Slept on an overnight train.Yes indeed, saves on hotel fares...I also took a train from Hong Kong straight to Saint Malo France, by way of Beijing, Irkutsk, Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin yadda yadda yadda....Love it. Wish we were going to Paris on the overnight train, that would have been lovely. Next time.
21. Had a pillow fight. Yeah yeah yeah.
22. Hitch hiked. Possibly in the Bahamas where it is the norm in the out-islands, but I am not sure that I did.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Duh.
24. Built a snow fort. Of course.
25. Held a lamb. Wrestled sheep for dagging in NZ, patted lambs, but actually picked one up, no.
26. Gone skinny dipping. Lots. The Bahamas were great for it.
27. Run a marathon. No, never ever ever.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. When I was 18.
29. Seen a total eclipse. yes.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Almost daily for the last six years.
31. Hit a home run. Probably as a kid.
32. Been on a cruise. Does it count in your own boat?
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. I'm from Toronto.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Think so, hard to say.
35. Seen an Amish community. Yeah, I'm from Toronto.
36. Taught yourself a new language. Catalan, slowly. You've heard about that. Though I still think that the idea of teaching yourself in total isolation is bizarre.
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Most of my life. Food? Check. Shelter? Check. Enough clothes? Check. Fine.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. Yep, when you could still walk on it. I was 18.
39. Gone rock climbing. Yes, in Colorado and Ontario, as well as Australia. Sounds impressive, but I am not great.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person. Yes, made the hair on my neck stand up. He is amazing, so are the unfinished (deliberately?) statues that flank the entrance to the hall...Muscular Michelangelo-esque arms and bodies straining out of unfinished rock.
41. Sung Karaoke. No. Wait, yes...in a class.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. No.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Honestly, not sure.
44. Visited Africa. Egypt counts I think, no?
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. Yes, but I like to be back to the boat by then when I can. Sand fleas. Ugh.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. Once, accompanying a friend with a breathing issue.
47. Had your portrait painted. Self-portrait (badly) yes, had it painted by someone else...well, a caricature when I was a kid, and my kids....
48. Gone deep sea fishing. Yes, off the boat, we let it go. Only once.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. Yes indeed. Would love to go again now that it has been cleaned.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Yes, and hopefully we'll go again next week. Youngest really wants to.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeled. Lots, love it.
52. Kissed in the rain. Certainly. So?
53. Played in the mud. Tons.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. Well, not in a car. You see there is this motel in Colorado where you can watch the movie with the sound from the room. That was pretty cool and way more comfortable.
55. Been in a movie. You can hear me scream in the background of David Cronenburg's Naked Lunch.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China. Sort of, I got miserably sick in Beijing, and had to forgo that side trip, but I saw it from the train....
57. Started a business. Yes, ran it for seven years, then went sailing.
58. Taken a martial arts class Karate. Adored it. I should do it again.
59. Visited Russia. Yes, see above. The Kremlin was closed for a meeting.
60. Served at a soup kitchen. Nope.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. With Eldest.
62. Gone whale watching. Saw whales from the boat, but never a tour.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason. The man brought me a rose the other day. Lovely fellow.
64. Donated blood. No, again with embarrassment.
65. Gone sky diving. Yes. Not as exciting as I thought it would be, and you approach the ground FAST.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. No, might one day, Visited Yad Vashem in Israel though.
67. Bounced a check. Probably, almost certainly in fact. Not for ages though.
68. Flown in a helicopter. Waiting for that one.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. Yes of course.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. Yes.
71. Eaten Caviar. Yes, most notably in Moscow...it was cheaper than pop.
72. Pieced a quilt. Started a crazy quilt, it's packed in the basement in Toronto, and did a very small one once with Eldest.
73. Stood in Times Square. Yes.
74. Toured the Everglades. In a canoe, by car and on my boat.
75. Been fired from a job. No, thankfully.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. Yes, again, it pays to be tall.
77. Broken a bone. Nose, I think, wrist yes.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Thankfully no, and never ever want to.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Yes.
80. Published a book. No, not sure I want to, though I'd like to book my blog at some point.
81. Visited the Vatican. Yes.
82. Bought a brand new car. No. I owned one car once, a used Ford Tempo. I don't like cars and don't want to own another ever again if I can help it.
83. Walked in Jerusalem. Yes, for weeks, it was astonishing and scary and amazing and and and....
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. yeah, a couple of times. Mostly small local papers.
85. Read the entire Bible. No, though once I was reduced to reading bedtime stories out of it, that was interesting.
86. Visited the White House. Looked at the outside. Does it count? I am not sure I care to get closer. It isn't what I want to do in Washington....
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Fish. Yes.
88. Had chickenpox. Barely remember it.
89. Saved someone’s life. Don't know. Poses interesting questions that one...In fact, I probably have, many times, I am a Mom...and youngest never paid much heed to traffic, but would they have died??? Hard to say.
90. Sat on a jury. Got called for Jury duty last year, due to geographic obstacles I was excused.
91. Met someone famous. Yeah, not something important though to do though... Mostly when I was a waitress. I had sushi for the very first time, indeed made sushi the night I had dinner with Max Ferguson.
92. Joined a book club. Sadly no.
93. Lost a loved one. Grand parents.
94. Had a child. Twice. At home.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. It was freaky. We went through with a Mexican family, I cannot imagine what they were thinking.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. No. The Dead Sea? Yes.
97. Been involved in a law suit. Thankfully, no.
98. Owned a cell phone. Ummm, yeah.
99. Been stung by a bee. yes.

Virtual U in a week.

I read a bunch of education/technology blogs along side of the bloglist on the side panel there.

They talk relatively endlessly, and quite interestingly about the possibilities of on-line education as well as the use of technology in regular classrooms.

One of the neat things that is going on here is the result of a not so neat things.....the students and profs together have shut down most of the Universities here for well over a month, possibly two. They are upset about a number of propositions coming out of Brussels about the future of post-secondary education in Europe.

My real point is that fascinating fact that the universities went virtual almost instantly....in the space of about a week Profs were offering course material over blogs, video conferencing, wikis, e-mail and texting. The students had papers to write and due dates to meet....it all went on. On line. with no fuss.

Pretty darned neat I say.

Why does it take everyone else so long and why do we remain so painfully attached to the classroom?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A lovely quiet Christmas

Well, still no heat nor hot water. 'Nuff said on that topic.

Chuck's Xmas gift was dried strips of duck meat. Can I just say that they were a huge success? He set his teeth into the bag as I broke the seal and tried to jerk them from my hands...tugtugtug...

Our friends left this morning (;-( so it was just us and my folks today, and it was lovely. Presents, a walk in town to see an art show and the monumental pessebre that was put up...a nice dinner and we went to here the local choir's Christmas concert in the church.

Lovely, also a three hour nap.

Sweet!

There is a Christmas present I LOVE!

What do you like best? Me.... books books books and books. I got lots and also Amazon money so I can get some more!!!

YEAH!

Cruising the virtual aisles as we speak....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The bells just rang it in.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Cheers,

Oreneta

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

noooooooooooooooooooooooooo

The heat and hot water went off again.

I have nothing nice to say about it.

We have lots of guests, most of them staying here.

Nothing nice to say.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kids.

Kids are so happy so much of the time.

A friend is here, the grandparents are here, no school, youngest had the big festival and showed off the school, sang with her class.

Walked in the hills, dancing and laughing the whole time, when they weren't exploring.

A lot of things about being a kid are tough, but a lot is great too.

They laugh SO much.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pessebres

One of the key events in the Catalan calender at this time of year is the pessebre...the nativity scene. Most houses will put one up, and they usually buy a new piece every year. The towns also do a live pessebre...with the local kids playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, along with a variety of angels and sheep. The three kings don't put in an appearance until the 6th, so they aren't present. The devil gets a look in though, and tonight he was roundly routed by a group of determined Catalan girls.

It does seem kind of odd to me in some ways I have to admit.

I haven't really managed to put my finger on why it seems so strange, but somehow it does.

Friday, December 19, 2008

YEAH HOOOOO!!

School's OUT!

WORKS OUT!!!

My folks are showing up soon for the holidays and friends tomorrow.

Life is GooooooOOOOOOOooooddddddd again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We're doing OK

According to the Economist, a report by Save the Children UK tells us that Japan is the best place for kids to grow up, followed by Spain and then in third, Canada.

Next time the kids are grousing about how hard done by they are I know what to tell them.

FOOD!!

As a much needed break from talking about math and crazy math teachers, I have elected to talk about FOOD!!!

YEeeeAaaaaa HoooooOO!


Now, for lunch I had two lovely perfect fried eggs, one had an orange-y yolk and the other was a little yellower...beautiful and perky and very very yummy. So yummy I didn't get a photo. *snarf, gulp*

I did get a photo of my oatmeal....very special oatmeal, cause I start with this:



Cocoa powder and peanut butter, then in goes the oatmeal...I like it firm-ish so the milk swims around it like islands and the sea.


Very brown islands, and with the brown sugar I located, perfectly yummy islands. I NEVER stir my oatmeal...I like the contrast of the crunchy sugar, and the mushy oatmeal, also the cold milk and the hot, well, the hot oatmeal.

Mmmmmmmm. The peanut butter almost makes it easy to forget all the sugar and you can convince yourself it is good for you and not a desert. What more can you ask for?

Then there is this: the most flamboyant cauliflower I. ever. saw.



Is that not amazing? Alarming too....what did they cross that with? A physicist? I've heard of franken-foods and all, but.....their DNA????

I am not making this up.

Update on the math exam...

I called the school and spoke to the head of studies. Whatever. The man can talk and talk...seemingly forgetting that people have to go to work in the morning.

I didn't leave reassured. There is a fair chance that Eldest may get three different teachers next term too...in reverse order...as the sub gets better and returns, and then the incomprehensible one from Lleida returns....I think they are defending the rights of the teachers over the rights of the kids. The sub with the broken leg is a SUB, why should he have the right to come back. Then again, listen to what happened today. Maybe they want him back.

Seems that Eldest was supposed to have the full hour for the test - whether because I phoned or not, I don't know....recess and then the first half hour of the subsequent class; but get this, the five kids showed up to do the test, and the teacher didn't. They went to the office to have him paged...didn't respond. They went to the teacher's lounge, wasn't there. Finally another teacher started to get them in trouble for being in the hallways during recess, they explained, and he said the test will be Friday.

Honestly.

The good side is that we have till Friday.

Can you imagine? The term professionalism doesn't exactly spring to mind.

On a less totally bizarre note...I managed to use subjuntives SPONTANEOUSLY twice yesterday!!!!!

PROGRESS!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A rant is better than a whine.

OK. I am going to draw, quarter, spit and burn that math teacher. This morning he bumped the math retake exam (remember that pass/fail the whole term jobbie?) to TOMORROW. Half a day's notice. Two days less to study. Then he decided that he is going to give them only half an hour to do it rather than the full hour they NEED for a three page exam.

I phoned the school. I am going in tomorrow morning as well, with youngest, poor thing, and I will be terribly late for my Catalan - if I make it. Which is the second point of despair/rage at the moment.

3. Not being able to study for Catalan

4. Cleaning.

5. The man's work hasn't come up with the double payment for the month yet....normally it is sent on the first or the 15th....

6. Eldest has developed a weird and painful swelling in a toe.

7. Youngest is being harassed by the boys in her class, the teacher doesn't believe her when she complains and the boys say she is lying, so the teacher doesn't stop it, then she gets in trouble for kicking them, and has to pick up all the garbage they have thrown at her. Must write a note for that tomorrow.

8. There is a leak in the roof in youngest's room. Very small, but I forsee jackhammers.

9 The phone still doesn't work properly

10. I have NO time.

11. The dog has to go back to the vet for a cut he has.

12. The usual chores that appear at this time of year.

13. The school sent home a note about all the times for the upcoming events; it included the dates and no times. In my already overcrowded schedule, and diminishing mental abilities I have to now go into the school, ask what the times are and write them down. Make a decent note, boys and girls.

14. I am annoyed that something so small would annoy me.

15. I grind my teeth in my sleep.

16. The keyboard on this computer sucks, and letters just don't appear and the space bar doesn't function properly...plus the internet cord keeps slipping out, and the other computer has to get the power cord replaced. It has gotten all sensitive. Put that on the list too.

17. I NEED this vacation

18 now


Can I get off now? I think I'm done.

And take that math teacher with me? Oooooooooh, what I would like to do to that one......

Monday, December 15, 2008

Misc.

BIG NEW OF THE DAY: Eldest P.A.S.S.E.D. Castillian!!!!! 50%, but a PASS!!!!!!!!

We are very very happy.

She is being graded just as hard as the other kids, most of whom are native speakers. This is a considerable achievement.

Good going kid.

Now, MATH!

OMG.

The test is the day my parents arrive, and as she has officially failed the term and this is the last ditch chance to pass, we have been studying like MAD....may I add, that I am learning things that they never ever taught when I was a girl....it is making it a challenge finding time to get ready...and to study Catalan...but what the heck, it'll all get done in the end. As long as she passes the darn thing.

My firefox is doing something a little weird. This screen popped up, and every time I move the mouse over it, I was painting....It is pretty cool...and quite mystifying.

Look what I did:

On another topic, can I just say something about getting older? It is weird. I was hot, then cold, then sweaty hot, then cold all day. Like an egg timer every half hour; and my eyebrows? I swear they are thining, though maybe I am just getting a complex here. This is not a common problem in Spain.

I read a casual and humorous list of parenting tips in a book last night, one of them we seem to be doing right. I'll share. "When parenting a teenager, be sure you have a dog. Then there will always be someone who is happy you came home."

Check.

I am going to have to write a practice test for eldest to do tomorrow night. Fortunately I'll be at work when she has to do it!!!

Sweet!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bye bye shrub!

Found on Clay Burell's always fascinating site....

Asked to sum up Bush’s record on the [climate change] issue, France’s climate ambassador Brice Lalonde chose instead to pass on a story he had heard.

A man comes to the White House asking to see Bush. “He doesn’t live here anymore,” he is told. The next two days he comes again asking the same question, and receiving the same answer.

On the fourth day, the exasperated guard shot back: “I’ve already told you, he’s no longer here.”

“I know, I know,” the man replied. “But it’s such a pleasure to hear you say it.” (source)

In the news, Youngest's basketball team won handily, 60 - 8. She even scored two points!

Eldest has a field trip coming up this week. The near 200 kids from her grade are being trucked into BCN, they will go and do a set activity, and then be released into the Barri Gothic, unsupervised. They are mandated to remain in heards of at least two - analogies to lemmings come to mind- and are to meet back, we know not where, at a fixed time.

The man is concerned.

As he said, "It was easier when they were in strollers."

True, but I'm glad we're past that stage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

OK parents out there....

Here's the question.

Small town.

Some kids are outside being stupid, but they almost certainly go to school with eldest and definitely know her.

Ignore it for a while...they are just setting off fireworks; then they start setting them off IN the garbage bins which are large and semi-permanent.

Moving from stupidity to vandalism.

Do you go out and tell them to cut it out?

Or not?

Woe is me.

I look at some of the kids I teach, and I swear, there are a few that have flypaper in their heads. These kids hear a word ONCE and they so totally own it. They intuit grammar, and just cruise along.

I swear to you, my brain is coated in teflon.

I was comforted to hear that the current head of Catalonia, who is Spanish, struggles mightily with the pronouns as well. Indeed they do imitations of him messing it up, and the guy can't be that stupid.

I realise I have said something wrong about two words later; then I figure out how to say it right in about the middle of the next sentence. Like coming up with a great come-back line after you've left the room.

It also means I am trying to think of four things at once when I am speaking.

1. What I said wrong before,
2. How to say it right,
3. How to say what I am trying to say now,
and
4. What the heck it is I want to say.

Sound familiar anyone?

I either have to talk a loooooooottttttttt slooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwers
and study a lot more.

On a brighter note, my folks are arriving next Friday, and friends on Saturday!

Sweet!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Many of the exams in the Catalan High Schools and Universities give students marks for correct answers, but also deduct marks for incorrect answers.

Think about that for a moment while I hyperventilate with rage and frustration over here.

*ahhhhhaaaaa*

Yes.

The single best tool I have ever seen for stifling effort, innovation and a willingness to take a risk.

Is there a reason educators would want to do this in a post-Franco country?

Do we have even the foggiest notion what the world our children are inheriting will be like? Really, consider the changes we have seen in only the last 20 years?

Do you think robotic regurgitation of fact from short term memory coupled with a fear of risk and imagination is going to work for them?

OMFG.


It also makes me sad to hear the number of really bright students I talk to who NEVER read; who hate reading.

I find it hard to articulate why if find that so sad. But honestly, that is the only word I can use.

Sad.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jokes for Canucks!

My sister sent these over to me....

I laughed and laughed.

Hope you do to.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from
September through May,
You may live in Canada .

If someone in a Home Depot store
Offers you assistance and they don't work there,
You may live in Canada .

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time,
You may live in Canada .

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation
With someone who dialled a wrong number,
You may live in Canada .

If 'Vacation' means going anywhere
South of Detroit for the weekend,
You may live in Canada .

If you measure distance in hours,

You
may live in Canada .

If you know several people
Who have hit a deer more than once,
You may live in Canada .

If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C'
In the same day and back again,
You may live in Canada .

If you can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow
During a raging blizzard without flinching,
You may live in Canada .

If you install security lights on your house and garage,
But leave both unlocked,
You may live in Canada .

If you carry jumpers in your car

And your wife knows how to use them,
You may live in Canada .

If you design your kid's Halloween costume
To fit over a snowsuit,
You may live in Canada .

If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km --
You're going 90 and everybody is passing you,
You may live in Canada .

If driving is better in the winter
Because the potholes are filled with snow,
You may live in Canada .

If you know all 4 seasons:
Almost winter, winter, still winter,
And road construction,
You may live in Canada .

If you have more miles
On your snow blower than your car,
You may live in Canada .

If you find 2 degrees 'a little chilly',
You may live in Canada .

If you actually understand these jokes,
And forward them to all
Your Canadian friends & others,
You definitely live in Canada

So?

Did you like them?

Cheers,

O

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Truth is.....

Am I the only one who thinks of a great blog post in the middle of the day, but when I get the chance to write I can only remember that I had a great idea, and not what the idea was?

Has the font on my blog always been this ugly and it is just on this new computer that I can see it. Doesn't blogger have any nice fonts?

My post lady suggested that we put a mailbox outside our house so she could more easily leave the mail for us. I didn't mention that if she came more than once every other week, like she is supposed to in her contract, maybe she would have less trouble getting the mail to fit into the door.

Wish I could think of that idea.

Nope.

Have you ever read the kid's book, "Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire"? We are reading it now and it is extravagantly full of delightfully surrealist language...it would be unspeakably brutal for an English language learner, but is delightful otherwise. I can highly recommend it, especially for boys...though girls would love it too. Some of the characters are stunningly gross.

One of the lines I am carrying away from it is the off-repeated mantra of one of the main characters.

I'll leave you with it...

Truth is a lemon merengue.

Cheers,

O

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jack of all trades...

The furnace guy - OMG. OK, can I just say that when he arrived (45 minutes early so the man had to leave work early so that we wouldn't have to leave both sick girls in the house with the heater guy on their own when I had to leave for work 20 minutes after he got there.)

What was I saying??

Oh, yeah...the heater guy arrived while I was on the phone with the telephone guy - in Spanish. Can I just add here, that I really cannot understand Spanish much at all.

So...heater guy (hg) buzzes, I let him on the property, put the dog in with youngest, open the door, greet him, and go back to the phone call with the phone guy (pg) (in Spanish) . The handset itself is the problem, so we can talk on the speakerphone, just not the phone. The Spanish phone guy is yapping away at me, and I haven't a freaking CLUE... heater guy is standing in the doorway looking at me, and I give him one of those what-the-heck-is-he-talking-about smile-shrugs and a laugh...so heaterguy starts to listen for real, because I am just saying 'si' to most everything. So phone guy talks, pauses, I look over to heater guy who gives me a nod, or shakes his head...and I - the conversational puppet - simply echo heater guy, now translator/phone problem solver guy.

This goes on, and after I'm off, he tells me what the heck I had being saying in the conversation.

Too weird.

He then goes and TURNS ON THE D*MN HEATER JUST LIKE WE HAD BEING TRYING ALL WEEKEND. You know when you take your car that has being doing weird stuff to the mechanic and it doesn't do it with the mechanic and you are left looking like a complete nut????

Yeah. Like that.

Anyway, I expressed considerable doubt that it was actually fixed. Explained how it had gone off...hombreheaterguy speaks CATALAN so I am home free....I asked if the wires were tight enough, yadda yadda yadda....anyway, we have heat and hot water - for now.

He also gave us the number of the factory technician. If it happens again, call them, don't call him. He has no idea what the problem could be.

Have to say...you know what he charged me? To fix (sort of) the machine, drive over etc etc etc including free translation service....????? NADA (please note I am using Spanish here) RES..NOTHING!!!

MY kind of repair guy.

I'm not leaving him home alone with the girls though. Nuff's enough.

Catalan

Here's a little Catalan joy for you...

Devia donar-se un cop ell mateix.

Devia = he probably had

donar = given

-se = himself

un cop = a hit

ell mateix = himself.

So we have.....He probably gave himself a hit, himself.

Què???????

This sentence is actually in my workbook and I have to restate it in two different ways starting with:

potser = maybe or probably
and
I si = and if

Maybe he hit himself, himself

and if he hit himself himself....but this is an incomplete sentence.?????

I will have to ask about this one.

OMG

Monday, December 8, 2008

revenge of the beasts

Here we have living proof that Chuck is a bad dog and gets on the couch when I am not paying attention.



Eldest is experimenting with tree decorations...so far she has tried out a mystery creature, sorry no photo, it fell in seconds...too heavy.

Then she tried out the skunk....



T'was the stink before Christmas and all through the house, the children were sleeping with closed pegs on their noses.

Did you notice the Halloween decorations in the background??? So sad.

Now we have a squirrel...which has a certain logic to it anyway....




What do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

this and that.

The apartment is cold, and there is no hot water...AGAIN. Yes indeed the caldera is fotuda again. No HEAT! Good thing this is Spain not Canada.

Sitges had been the plan today, but youngest was up most of the night sick...stomach ache and nausea...including some vomiting. Sorry folks, but that's the facts.

She spent the day on the couch and has crept back into bed, having eaten a bit. Hope it stays down.

Given the day spent hovering around the couch I

- found Picasa 3, which I love,

- sorted the massed snowdrifts of photos that had been accumulating in the computer through lack of time.

- Finished reading "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" in Catalan. Hadn't read it in any language...what a fabulous book. Though uncomfortable too. You know it can't end well. There were times I just had to put it down and walk away. Glad I read it, glad it's done. No I won't see the movie. It couldn't keep up with the book, even read in Catalan.

I have to recommend Herve Tullet's "The Five Senses". He apparently was in advertising (?!?!?!) and now makes a living with children's books including "The Scribble Book"....which my kids were not that excited about, but some of the artwork in "The Five Senses" is fabulous. I adore it. Bright, colourful, lively and interesting.

The computer cord that brings juice to the machine has also decided - today - that it is not going to work anymore, thankyouverymuch.

Of all the nerve. In the interest of my dying battery...I leave you here.

Cheers!

O

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Loooog winded...but there's photos at the end?!?

I just ADORE Barcelona...even when it is insanely busy and filled up with people EVERYWHERE!

Christmas shopping? More finished...not all yet though.

Pizza in BCN, be careful, be very very careful. Some decidedly mediocre pizza...the kids were happy though.

Then we went off to see this exhibit at the always amazing, and frequently alarming and perennially mind bending CCCB...the Centrede Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (I think). Now I had read about this exhibit...and I had talked to people about this exhibit, and indeed it made it onto the local news. It was all about bringing statistics to an understandable level..using rice. Work with me here...they used 2000 kilos of rice to illustrate everything from how many people in BCN use solar power to how many Doctors and soldiers there are. I was entranced. I was also too late. One thing I did not find out was that it was only on for four days.

Poop.

Strangely when we were in the CCCB today trying to see it, and I asked them about the exhibit with all the rice, they had no idea what I was talking about. None. My Catalan is not that bad. But ladies and gentlemen, the exhibit took place in the foyer...you know, the entrance, right where the lovely ticket ladies sit EVERY SINGLE DAY. How could they have no idea what I was talking about??? Honestly.

ANYwhoooo,

We decided to skip the world press photos exhibit...way disturbing...especially with the kids,

Headed into another show...it was pretty disturbing too....though I want to go back to that one without the girls,

So instead we settled for the exhibit on Chinese cities, which frankly, I thought was going to be a bore...another of those semi-promotional, "isn't China great" things that have been everywhere leading up to the Olympics, put together by the Chinese ministry of who-knows-what.

BUT NO!!!

It was amazing, and we didn't have NEARLY enough time....here's the link...it was organised around several overlapping themes....the six cities they are focusing on, but also things like water, work, feng shui, strength...they also had six movies created by Chinese directors in each of these cities and the city was to be the main character....they were all estranged and unhappy people, what I saw of it...fruit for thought...I HAVE to go back. The movies were neat...and subtitled in Catalan which was great too.....

Now a strange collection of photos I have been too busy/disorganised/tired/lazy/forgetful to post.....

So...lets see what I found on the camera....

First up...this was a REALLY huge snail that must have come in on some produce and we found him/her - did you know that about snails? They lead most interesting lives. Anyway, he/she was in the sink with the clean dishes. I love it that my groceries actually have living animals with them. Seriously. He is a Spanish snail though...climbed right up the wine jug!



We got invited to a friend's for dinner yesterday, and she has an OVEN!! so guess what we made...pumpkin pie...Love it but we had to render the pumpkins....this is our homemade steamer basket...worked just fine too!



These mannequins are used in quite a bit of BCN...I find them, to say the least freaky! Weird weird weird...so I thought I'd share the weirdness with you...



Finally, a typical view down one of the streets near the Cathedral...so lovely.


I love the texture of the walls more than anything else, and the glimpses and rays of light. And that it doesn't stink the way it must have for centuries. Really, it must have been terrible.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The semi-colon

We were at a friend's house for dinner, and got debating punctuation...this is what you happens when enough multi-lingual people, and people who are studying languages get together. (I am not in the multi-lingual group by the way)

Anywhoo....

The man and I got debating. The semi-colon is a non-obligatory bit of punctuation, and has become a bit of an individual thing. Now me? I like them, a lot...as regular readers may have noticed. The man? Not so much. Indeed he actively dislikes them outside of technical writing, where they presumably hold a specific role.

In the interest of continued nerdy punctuation discussion, I have posted a poll over there on the right to find out how you feel about the humble, but I think useful, semi-colon.

I never even used one in this whole post; poor things. Whoops! There's one now.

OUCH!!

I can now explain with confidence the reason for the outrageous number of podiatrists in this place. Every single pair of apparently comfy looking boots that I tried on were not just uncomfortable, but downright painful

OUCH.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

going shopping....

BOOTS!

Going into BCN tomorrow...

Doing a bunch of shopping, and well, shopping...but all by myself thankyouverymuch.

Bad Chuck just ate a chunk off my slipper! He ate it!!!

BAD DOG!!!


He has retreated with a doggie bone...better than my slipper...

here's hoping that I'll find some boots.

If I get some...there'll be pictures...

promise...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One of those days.

Am I the only one who sees a problem with a Catalan literature course and a Spanish literature course that reads only English books in translation? WTF?????

Do you have days when you really seem to notice the crappy, dreary, depressing, scary parts of life, and you have to consciously notice all the good stuff?

Yup.

OK...

Here I go. Noticing:

The man
The girls
Family
Friends
The heat and hot water

Forget that, clean water
clean readily available food
Health all around
Chuck
Decent work
Decent brain
(normally) optimistic outlook.

help me out here,

What should I add?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Canadian politics! Fascinating. You would have thought that a contradiction in terms, but not this week.

My longest title ever.

I have to say that this post has a great early opener on what is going on in Canadian politics (hint...hopefully they will toss that misogynist SOB environmental nightmare that we have mysteriously had as PM for too shudderingly long) *nb...at least you know where I stand anyway*

I love the opening line on this blog wherein he describes in a nutshell what has happened so far.
My bet is that Harper thought that he could do anything he wanted as it would be impossible for the Liberals to get out from under the leadership mess. Worse, he could not help poking a stick in the eye of all the other parties.
Such a stupid selfish thing to do Harper....stupid and selfish.

Lord I really cannot abide that man. He hates women, hates anything that has the temerity to grow and live on this planet without personally serving him directly or at least bringing him profit.

Shudder.

*whew*

Stepped right up on the band wagon there.

It was SO unfortunate that Ignatieff didn't win the head of the liberal party. Mr. Rae...shame on you. I used to respect you...but you are revealing yourself as power-hungry to the point of idiocy and untrustworthyness. Cause you know what?

Dion????

Lordy lordy lordy.

GO GREENS!!!!

On a more timeless and universal note...you could hop over here for a really lovely photo of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus which are all lined up right now and they are really spectacular. If you have a chance, even better, go outside and look up! A lovely change from politics.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Books and boots

The BOOK IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!
I have GRAMMAR to study.

El LIBRE és AQUI!!!!!!!!!!
DM DM DM DM DM DM !
Tinc gramer que puc estudiar.

Is that not totally pathetic. OMG how low I have sunk.
No és completament patètic. DM, quin horor.

On another note, I think I might have found THE boots. There are two different pairs. I tried one on, but it was the wrong size and they were really busy and my bus was coming in three minutes, so I will have to go back. Let's hope they are comfy. I tried on one other pair the other day and they hurt. I have never met flats that actually hurt your arches before. A Spanish brand. No wonder they have so many podiatrists here.

Un altre cosa, em sembla que potser he trobat ELS botes. Hi han dos tìpus. He probat un, però no era la talle correcta i la boutiga tenia molta gentada i el meu autbús va estar arribant en tres minutes, aixì, hi tournaré. Eseperem que siguin còmodes. He probat un altre parelle de botes l'altre dia i em fa mal. Mai he trobat botes sense talons que, de debó, fa mal. Un marc Espanyol. Potser és per això hi ha tan podiatristes aqui.

Off to study something obscure.

I SO want to actually pass this exam. I even bought a book for working on pronunciation, compete with CD cause my pronunciation is so terrible.

Estic anant per estudiar alguna cosa ben desconegut.

Voldria probar aquesta examin MOLT. Mira, he comprat un llibre per ajudar'me amb pronunciació, amb CD, perquè el meu pronunciacion és terrible.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

jejejejejejejeje

That would be Catalan or Spanish for hehehehehehehehehe, hahahahahahahhaha.

Sorry about this folks, but as I have spent almost the entire day on it, you're gonna get some Catalan GRAMMAR!!!

PARTY!!!

Ho sento tothom, però fins que he gastat tot la dia amb això....us donaré...GRAMMATICA catalan!!!

FESTA!!!!


Even a bilingual blog...for the moment.

One of my two joys of the day...dur/endur and portar/ emportar.

These are four different verbs, but dur and portar are exact synonyms; and endur and emportar are as well. You might well ask yourself why this is necessary. I have.

El blog està bilingual...per ara.

Un dels coses que vaig disfrutar més avui...dur/endur i portar/emportar

Són quatre verbs diferents, però dur i portar són synonims exacte: i endur i emportar son lo mateix. Potser et demanis perquè ho és necessar...ho he fet.


HOWEVER...dur and portar signify that you are carrying something, which endur and emportar imply that you are bringing something from somewhere specific. Not something we pay a lot of heed to in English...but what the heck..

First mystery solved, thanks to some friends,

Tot i que...dur i portar significan que estas portant alugna cose, mentre endur i emportar diuen que estàs portant alguna cose des de una lloc especific. No ho és important en anglès, però...perquù no?

Second mystery...s'hi and hi. Hi is a pronoun that signifies place, for instance, "Mauritius is a place where there are lemurs.

s'hi is a combined pronoun..the Catalans LOVE these and they are killers, s' indicates him or her or them, and hi is a place, so you have a combination of where they. For instance, "the market is where they can buy fruit." but they combine the words to make a new kinda word. Gak.

El segon misteri...s'hi i hi. Hi és un pronom que significa un lloc, com:"Mauritius és un lloc on hi ha lemures.

S'hi és un pronom combinat...els catalans li agraden molt, i són fatal, el s' indica ell o ella or els o les i hi és un lloc, aixì teneu una combinacion de hi i se, com:"El marcat s'hi pot comprar fruites." però els pronoms s'n combinat i fen una quasi nova tipus de paraula. GAK.


If you made it to the end of all that you deserve a medal. I have probably just lost the last three readers of this site. Ah well.

Si heu acabat tot això, hauríeu de guanyar un premi. Devia perdut els ultims tres persones qui llegir aquest pagina web. Una llastima.




Hoping your weekend was less grammatical anyway.

Cheers,
O

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Books and ships

Youngest's basketball game? AMAZING...they were on fire. Who'd have thought I could enjoy kids playing sports so much. They lost by one shot in overtime...playing against a team that w.i.p.e.d. the floor with them last time....Youngest got a basket too!!!

She's playing center and seems to be a throw in specialist as well. Don't have the foggiest idea why.

BCN's Marine museum...fantastic place...has an exhibit on:

Zheng He...now there was an amazing man, well, eunuch.

He was the admiral of a huge fleet of enormous ships sailing out of China in the early Ming dynasty. Tremendous voyages....amazing ships.

We had to pick up another book for Eldest for school. They have to read 7 books for Catalan class this year, and they are picking great ones. Eldest is (I am thrilled to report) now reading Catalan well enough that this is a manageable task...indeed, today we picked up another book that she wanted to read IN CATALAN!!!!!!WOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

One of the optional books for next term is the The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which I have been wanting to read, so now I am having a go in Catalan, and it is going well so far. Slow, but well. Have you read it? Is it good?

I am also reading another Catalan novel in Catalan about a Catalan man from Barcelona who goes to England to study English for three weeks. Glutton for punishment I am...busman's holiday, no?

I have given up on "Tirant Lo Blanc" the first Catalan novel. Think Don Quixote. Too little editing, man can they ever go ON. Knights, babes, battles...though there is a great deal more sex in the Catalan version that in the Arthurian tales or Quixote, indeed everyone is sleeping with everyone, these are some hot-blooded women...kind of like a Bond flick without the cool special effects and gadgets. Battle a bit, hang with the women, battle some more, deal with the evil types, get laid again...but it goes on far too long. I have given up. Maybe another time I'll finish it. I'm done.

Watched Hello Dolly tonight, the musical version...have you seen it? There is another film that goes on TOOOO long. Good, but tooooo long.

Seems to be a theme.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Uncle died last night.

It was not unexpected, but is still horrid.

I know very little more than that right now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Write or die.

Met with eldest's Spanish teacher.

Meh.

Can't say the guy really gained my respect. Sounded like it wasn't the whole unvarnished truth.

Whatever.

You can't like everyone you have to deal with, and there are always going to be dorks masquerading as teachers; we have to get on with it anyway, and get what you can out of the process.

Let's hope she gets some Spanish, no?

On another note, check this out....

Dr. Wicked's Write or Die program! The ultimate solution if you cannot think of a good post. Though I used this basic idea for a great language game in class today.

Here is my first go, all settings basically kind and normal:

Trying out the new Dr Wicked's writing pad, while people outside are yelling and screaming. It is astonishing to me that people will be so noisy late at night.

Though the single pane windows probably don't help. They certainly aren't keeping me any warmer. Sitting here in a fleecy jacket, down coat, and three shirts on.

I just deliberately paused, the screen went red-ish orange through brighter orange, I am just on normal mode, not kamikaze when it starts to erase what I have written.

I need one of these in my life.

I have one though.

Me.


Here is the second go....

OK, I am having a go at the evil pause level with kamikaze punishments...let's see whatherewhat happens here...whoa...it went red and redder then it ate my words!!!!

Eeeekk this one really keeps you going, like running with a pit bull on your tail. That reminds me of a dog that hangs around eldest's school, where there (hey I just hit my goal, and trumpets blew!!!)

Positive re-enforcement too!

Anyway, this is a HUGE Sheppard who has figured out that the playground is an excellent hunting ground. The boys give it parts of their lunches and snacks, and as these frequently consist of meat sandwiches....and the girls do too. Apparently today it made off, gleefully I am sure, with an entire large iberic ham sandwich (think prosciutto) on a baguette.

It was still there later when the man and I went into the school as well as when we left.



This is now in normal blog mode...not pit bull running....

On another bright note, a dog we have seen living wild in the village for the last year and that I have been worrying about has been adopted!!! No more sitting out in the freezing pouring rain for him!

He was really shy and wouldn't come near me, but a woman we know managed to catch him and he has a home. It is so great because he is a lovely dog.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Made me laugh out loud.

Some teenagers are openly loving, usually respectful and often fun to be with.

Who are those children? Other people's. What is their parents' secret? They are lucky.



From this article. Please excuse the grammar error.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Field trip!!!

On Sunday we went to Monserrat again...indeed we went twice, but that's another story.

Mostly we walked, but we took a cremellera up to a higher point...it is a type of train, but it runs on cogs because it is so darned steep.

Many things set Montserrat apart. It is the emotional heartland for Catalans, but there is also something about the hills there that is stunning. Something that is different, despite the crowds. They are also really weirdly shaped. Really weird...let me show you....

Do you see the elephant and the woman????

It really is weirdly shaped, and most stunning...


Can you see the profile of this fellow below? He looks like he eats well and is having a good laugh to me.


Now check out what was on top of his head. There is not a square inch of this place that hasn't been walked over. Any self respecting abbot with a mass of overactive young men is bound to send them off to go and do some harebrained bit of construction. Burns off disruptive energies, that they might spend somewhere more destructive to their soul, gets some work done, and if they kick off? Well, you've already got the dowry (so to speak) and they are dying for a good cause....


Here is a view from the very top looking north-ish...I am quite enamoured with the place.


Nobody carved this fellow below....

but the wind I guess.

There were tons of people there, and lots to do...like climbing....(which youngest wants to try)

This is my über-Catalan photo..the beloved Montserrat with the flag gallantly blowing in the breeze in the foreground.


You can go into the church, and visit the black Madonna (been there, done that, not again this time)...though we did light a couple of candles for some family who could use a hand. No harm in it.


If any of you were unclear that we are in Spain here, and not in North America anymore, check out this staircase. It was like this most of the way down. DO NOT STUMBLE. No Klutzes allowed.


WAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Crunch.

Cratering it is called in climbing.

Fortunately none of us did.

Though we didn't kick back on the edge like these folks did either.....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ready for bed.

I am soooo tired and sooooo incredibly cranky and emotional today. OMG.

Nuff said. I'll leave you with this music that I love and that my darling husband got off youtube for me....and I am too tired to embed it, so here's the link:



Woops! Maybe I did it, I'll give you the link as well, just in case.

Zachary Richard

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Italian anyone?

Doug mentioned that a leather store for gays may be the answer to my boot problem.....and in BCN I should have NO problem at all, there have GOT to be a whole bunch of those...I just have to find them.....

I think Doug may be right, you see I found this image on one of the websites that are selling the boots I'm looking for on-line.


I think for me, the calf height is a little more practical, no? Think of all the polish!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Boots.

Can I just talk about boots here for a minute or six?

I am living in Spain. The land famed for leather, boots, shoes and purses.

Let me tell you, I cannot find a pair of boots I like in this city. Not one.

They specialise in sl*t boots. Like these....



OK, that was a lie. I did see a whole lot of pairs like that in Poland though...

No really, they look more like these.....



Now those are fine boots in their own way, but they really aren't what I am thinking about. I don't really like having a ton of anything, so when I am looking for boots, I am thinking of something that I could wear with a dress - in a slightly punkish way - and that I could wear with pants, entirely reputably, and that I could wear in the hills walking the dog. One pair to do it all, like I have to.

So I started looking at shoes, there are two main choices...

These,



or these styles....



Now all the fashion divas out there -why they are reading this blog I don't know...my sister once described me as the coolest nerd she knew. A backhanded compliment if I ever heard one, but I think accurate.

Now...back to the fashion divas, who are going to shoot me because these are SO in style right now; but can I just say that I HATE both of those styles of shoes..I am not a school girl from the fifties, and I am FAR too old for ballet flats...FAR.

A little aside about the message i'm getting from these footwear options...am I the only one who is hearing that old saw about women? V*rgin or sl*t?

Is there nothing else out there for real women?

Something like maybe this?



or even better...THESE!!!



Tough as nails, I can walk anywhere comfortably and reasonably warm, but they can be polished. No zippers to break, or elastics to wear out, so they could last me twenty years... and they aren't fussy


Lord where can I get me some for a woman's foot?????

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bombs

My Catalan class went off on a field trip!!!

How good is that?!?

We went to Refugi 307 and it was utterly fascinating.

During the civil war the Italians took up bombing Catalonia...Mussolini felt like giving his good bud Franco a hand. The Catalans ended up building over a 1300 refuges in Barcelona.

They were built almost exclusively by women, children and old men. All the other men were off fighting for one of the six or seven sides there were to fight for.

There are photos of seven and eight year olds with shovels, and five and six year olds carrying baskets of earth and dirt. It really was built by kids.

The designs were passed around and community groups, like your local neighbours association, or scout group got the funds together and started digging.

Qualified engineer or architect types - or at the very least experienced builders - would go around once a week and check things over, and I am certain that some of the older men would have had decent skills they could have taught to some of the women as well.

They were really well built.

They used roman barrel arches on the ceilings as they are so tremendously strong, and bricks for the walls rather than rocks as they flex better with the shock loading of bombing...apparently they spall...shed the outer layer and remain strong. None of the ceilings were cracked, though there were cracks in the walls; as you would expect.

They had electric lights, bathrooms, and this one even had a water source, as they tapped into a natural spring by accident, bricked it to a controllable level and then built a cistern, complete with an overflow drain to the street.

Apparently folks would come running with whatever food, water and wine they could lay hands on. The tunnels had several right angle turns as you go in to defuse the bomb blast and catch any shrapnel...and then zigzagged throughout...again to defuse blasts, from bombs outside and any collapses that may happen inside as well. It also meant that the ceilings worked separately so that if one area collapsed, the next would be unaffected.

The workmanship was most impressive.

Then we got to the sections that Franco's men worked on while he was still worried about Hitler invading. Noticeable difference in workmanship. Then again, they weren't going to be hiding in them with their babies and grandparents......

Motivation makes a difference.

I kicked myself about a thousand times on my walk back...I forgot the camera!!!!

There were SO many things I wanted to take a picture of...what was I thinking.

I'll just have to go back.

Hope your all doing really well...oh, and a health update? I think maybe, just maybe, we are all well.

That's a good thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cranky people, and houses and happy me.

I've about had it with cranky people right now. Enough already, m'kay?

What is it, the chill in the air? The waning moon? Allergies?

Well.

The man and I went and looked at a house for rent in the area. We are very happy with the apartment, but if we could rent a house with a bit of a garden and a bit more room for much the same price....we don't want to move, but if something a whole lot better came up....

Anyway, this one we don't want. Pokey little rooms downstairs, a living/dining room big enough for a table and nothing more, so really no living room, or no dining room at all. An 'interior terrace' that felt like a very small very cold prison yard...tiled floor, two story+ walls and all of about 10 feet by 10 feet big.

Upstairs, there was the single most enormous bathroom I have ever seen in my life...bigger than the bedroom I have now, a slightly larger bedroom, and a second bedroom that has a weird thick stone partition wall partway down one side, leaving part of the room with about a seven foot ceiling, and about six feet wide, no lights no window.

Bedroom, complete with cave. Maybe they had teens in mind.

Strangely this was completely overhauled last year, so this is someone's idea of a good house design.

It is also on a busy street with a sidewalk that is about 6 an a half inches wide, and gets no sunshine ever and has no view of anything but concrete walls.

Plus we'd get to pay more rent.

No THANK you

ON another note altogether....

I bought a new item of clothing today!!!

OK, I'll admit this is not exactly as ground shaking as Obama's election or anything, but still.

When it gets cold out I just love me a turtleneck. I wear them pretty much every single day and I have for YEARS. That said, the individual turtle necks don't last all that long with all that wear. I only had one left, and it's orange. That's fine and all, but still

Well....I found a gorgeous black one...ribbed, thin, long enough to cover the gap left by the low-rise pants which is all you can buy right now ( this gap coverage is important when it is chilly) and fairly tightly cut so it looks good when it is worn alone and also fits under other outfits.

I am a happy - and toasty warm - camper.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"They're coming to take me away..ha ha ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho hooooooooooooo"

A little externally imposed madness today.

The girls were both home sick. I spent at least an hour morosely weeping over my Catalan books (you think I'm joking, but no. Subjunctives are killing me).

Then, as both girls were feeling better and wildly well rested, they thought they would see if they could make me completely crazy!

I was reading an e-mail peacefully in that quiet moment between dinner and bedtime (about 5 min. max) when they set on me.

It started out innocuously...a chat window opened up! Well, look at that...!!!! Someone wants to chat with me!!! EXCITING! (Hi elPadawan)...that's good...then another window opens up(Hi THERE!!!) ...m'kay...two simultaneous chats, and reading the e-mail in the pauses; starting to get a little wonky here, but I'm rolling with it. Then the kids arrived. Eldest, who is capable of the world's longest monologue...I kid you not. The Guiness book should check her out...and she had been at home sick all day(OMG) so had MORE than a little bit bottled up to say...she also articulates so badly that I can only understand about one word in three (a new-ish manifestation of adolescence)...and she shouts it all for good measure - that kindergarten inside voice thing was outrageously unsuccessful here. I only exaggerate a bit. Really.

Well,

She decides that the best place for this particular bit of performance art (really, that is what it is like sometimes) is sitting on the arm of my chair, which - with our relative heights - puts her mouth approximately five millimeters from my ear.

OK

I'm working with this...long honed maternal skills at ignoring her completely come into play. Good parenting, no?

Then youngest joins in, alternately yelling, singing, and fighting with her sister, interspersed with a variety of shrill squeals.

I'm holding my own, but I was starting to feel like the men with the white jackets were going to start circling like so many vultures...

Eldest's messenger then started to bing insistently as one of the multitude of lovely Catalan girls that want to reach Eldest chimed in....

Then.

Then;

then,

Chuck joined in the fun. Jumped his front feet onto the couch and started play-gnawing on whatever stray bit of anatomy or wardrobe appealed to him.

There were voices in my head that WERE NOT MINE and had NO place there.

Hello? Anybody home?

YES. SI. OUI. YES INDEED-Y. CIAO!

Still managed to chat bravely on, though the e-mail mysteriously sent itself to another folder...disappearing from my screen.

Maybe it was sulking 'cause it couldn't attract my attention with bells, whistles, barks, flashing lights, shrieks, teeth...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

share share share.

It must be meme season right now...every other blog I read has one or is sending one....maybe that's what fall really is about? Or is it pre-holiday giving?

Who knows.

Some are kind of cool though.

I was just reading on the always interesting Will Richardson's site
Weblogg-ed a reference to an article about "Sharism".

This harkens back to my sentiments about copyright and copyright infringment...and where the lines are drawn.

The source article that Richardson leapt off from is also very very interesting....you can find it here . The writer, Issac Mao, branches off into larger global political systems which may not be for everyone, but which I found relevant.

I also find it interesting that the article is being written about the power of sharing withing many contexts - social, economic, intellectual etc etc etc - and he is a Chinese venture capitalist living in China. The historical context for this piece adds to the fascination for me.

You might want to check it out. More later most likely.

Health status for those who care....
Youngest? Improving slowly. No school today or basketball, but better
Me? Improving steadily, but quavering given the next bit of news.
Eldest? Possibly going down...has had a headache for most of the day and two of the kids on her field trip threw up.

I am SUCH a sh*tty nurse.

Breathe deeply.

Monday, November 17, 2008

140

I like twitter a whole lot.

Like modern haiku.

You have a thought, and 140 characters.

I have seen groups do book reviews on twitter. 140 characters - one book....can you do it?

Put 'em in the comments if you dare.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hey baby, wanne see my...gangway?


Trundled off to the in-the-water half of the boat show...

What is it about Italians? They can be so charming and leave you feeling so LOVELY. Youngest REALLY wanted to walk up one of the hydraulic boarding ramps they have on mega-yachts....

so...

I stood around till the crew appeared on one of them and asked if she could just go up and down the ramp. You can't get on the big boats without an appointment. I assume that while you are attempting to make this appointment they are assessing your wealth in realtion to Bill Gates.

Needless to say, we didn't have an appointment.

They didn't count on Italians though. The guy was from Sardinia...where they do speak some Catalan, so when he heard a blond, not really young woman chatting to him in Catalan with a cute kid in tow we were I.N. Youngest trolled gleefully up and down the ramp then he asked us all aboard (well not the husband, nor the horrifically embarassed teen further up the dock). NOTHING happened...though I will have to mention to youngest about the non-wisdom of accepting invitations from men to go and see their ya-ch-t.

He was keen to show off his......

GPS systems...

Nothing like a good GPS system on a 87 foot motor yacht.

You know some of those monsters take 11,000 liters or more to fill and only go about 5oo miles on that?????

They must have a special dial, gallons/minute for consumption. (Those do exist by the way.)

Strangely I thought I would be overwhelmed by cravings at the show, but nothing called out to me. There was nothing there I really wanted. Not even the Italians.


Off to bed.

No photos...it is too late and I am too gross and snotty with this cold.

Blah.

A giant seething bubbling mass of contagion....aren't you glad you can't get it over the internet?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

*sniff*

My throat feels like it is lined with glass.

I don't remember such a sore throat since I was a teenager sitting up at night with my Mom...turned out to be strep. Hurts to swallow. Hopefully it isn't strep this time and I will be better tomorrow.

UGH.

Nuff whinin' I'm off to bed.

With warm water with honey and lemon and about a million layers, and lip goo, and kleenex....

Oh how attractive it all is.

So glad I've been married a while.

Friday, November 14, 2008

FOUR HOURS!!!!

OMG!!!

I got

FOUR

WHOLE

HOURS

all to myself - alone - with NOTHING I had to do. (OK, I ignored a bunch of things I SHOULD have done, but that's just fine.)

I got out the brushes and paints and paper I haven't been able to get to since last JUNE. If that isn't pathetic enough for you.....

I sort of went nuts....

Look...


I've tossed a pencil in so you can get some perspective. This one is not quite done yet, though it is closing in on it, and I am pretty darned happy with it.


Again pretty happy with this...it may be finished in fact...the colours look all weird on the computer, and flat.


This looks totally odd on the computer, but I really like it, and I THINK it is finished...I may do a little more...


These are in process...


Meh, not so happy with how this turned out...more work here to come....


This looks absolutely hallucinatory on my computer, but in real life looks, IMHO really good...and it is done. Love it.


Totally not done, almost didn't post it, but what the heck....collaborative/ripped the central portrait, it is one that youngest did.


Again, an image by Youngest, that she rejected as terrible, that I am reworking...the modern thing...take something and remix it...



Not sure this one is done yet...I am liking it a lot, but I need to sit with it a bit and see.

I was a busy girl today...to boot, Chuck slipped his collar this morning and had a gleeful time running around town and eating cat food before tearing home....

After I emerged from my art induce haze...I realised that school, and work and things had to go on...it was a real shift of gears. I had managed to really put everything aside and get on with it.

Did it ever feel good.

Hope your day went reasonably well too.