Tuesday, September 30, 2008
and a thanks to my Mom.
You see, my Mom (I don´t care if that is supposed to be lower case or not, I think Moms and Dads deserve the upper case everytime.) anyway, my Mom gifted me with a special ability. I don´t think she did this on purpose, but for my entire life I was never ever ever on the list. I would go the the first day of school, the first day of camp, whatever, and I would be certain that my name would not be there and they would have no idea whatsoever who I was or why I was there. This was easier to handle when I was younger as they certainly were not going to send a minor out on the street simply because their name isn´t on the list, but fortunately the situation persisted long enough that I can now talk my way into almost any course or camp or group I need to. Darn useful too.
I may be on probation with this class though, which isn´t so good as my linguistic gifts are not quite as advanced. I´ve been studying away so I don´t make too much of a weiner out of myself on Wednesday morning.
Cross your fingers for me, m´kay?
Sunday, September 28, 2008
If Stephen Harper wins the next federal election, the CBC will be no more. The federal parks will close, Quebec will leave and we will get to the grocery store by horse and buggy. Drought, fire, pestilence etc. will rule the land.... I will be in my office at home,writing on this website, drinking absinthe in bed and listening to old Bowie songs from the 1980s
Please Heather, get a site feed!
Love her or hate her, well, I really like her writing; I don't always agree, of course, but she has a way of writing that I find just outrageous enough to be funny. Laugh out loud funny sometimes.
Can you imagine? McCain/Palin + Harper???? Excuse me while I go find a rock to bury my head under. That would be useful, no?
My goodness I should get onto another topic...like my first Catalan class tomorrow, or the cold my husband has given me, or how sleepy I am, the new class I have tomorrow, or that I am not going to take the work a few towns over or or or...
Naaaa I'll leave it at that,
Got a buddy whose going to get hit by Kyle tonight, good luck m'kay?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
here to see how that could be.
Youngest had her basketball game, they didn't win but they had a lot of fun and learned a lot so that is all good.
I might get a little more work in a town a little distance from here, for good pay, which is great; I'm going to have to buy me a bicycle to do it though...it's about five kilometers each way (and hilly, lordy help me). I'll be eating whatever chocolate goop I feel like (yahoo!) and still getting in better shape, plus making more money, and and and....I'll have more time to organise as I wish, because if I take/get the job, I won't be able to take my Catalan class, which is kind of sucky, but it'll help pay for moving the boat, and maybe I'll be able to arrange some kind of Castillian classes, and that would be a very good thing too.
Waiting to see at this point.
We're at one of those moments when the decisions are sort of hanging like marionettes around you and you've got to work it all through and make them all dance. Know what I mean?
I play solitaire when I am uptight. I play badly. Lost a few rounds today. The game is just involving enough so that I don't dwell on or niggle at the issue, but not so much I cannot think, which is why I play badly...if I am working over questions with long running ramifications I can't read, my eyes just run over the words....
Red jack on the black queen.
What do you do when your uptight?
Friday, September 26, 2008
The dentist here, as I have said is YOUNG...she is also up to date on everything and has all new equipment, even a digital x-ray machine which I LOVE...Eldest got a spray on topical anaesthetic, followed by a painless needle and then the extraction. Very quick, and we had a visit before hand. Total cost? Twenty Euros...that's about twenty-five to twenty-seven bucks. Who needs mail when you get this kind of dental work?
On another note, we are seriously thinking of moving our darling Oreneta up out of Florida to Ontario somewhere...for a whole bunch of reasons...we'll see if we put this together, but it may just happen. Then we could even see her next summer!!! Maybe maybe maybe even go sailing!!!!!!OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Now, I am the first to admit that Canada post is not perfect, BUT, let me tell you, the mail is delivered every freaking day. I worked at the post office for a few weeks one Christmas, and I would just like to say that it was a point of honour to get the mail through, every day in a timely manner.
I'm not kidding, these guys took their jobs really seriously.
The mail gets through, every day.
and he had issues, but we just won't get into that right now.
So....we've had a mystery here; you see, the man subscribes to the Economist, it's a gift and he really really likes it. Back in Canada it used to arrive every single Thursday. Every single time. Here...not really. Sometimes we go three weeks and don't get a copy, then we get four at once. Now you see, it's a current affairs kinda job, so four weeks later, it just isn't quite the same.
I went into the post office today to ask. I used the stupid foreigner routine. I don't want to offend them you know or we'd never ever get ANY mail.
Seems we don't have a postal carrier. The very friendly man behind the counter told me this with a smile and a shrug. There just isn't one, so our mail is piling up in the back in big boxes along with everyone else's from our neighbourhood.
Seems there is a substitute that comes in now and then from BCN to do the work.
Can you imagine?
Mañana and a half my friends. (Nationalist Catalan grumblings and rumblings about those bumbling idiots in Madrid and their mañana attitude could be inserted here were we Catalan nationalists.)
I have put in a request for our mail. The man will pick it up tomorrow on his way home from work. I think I will put in a standing request that they set it aside every day, and he can get it every day. Maybe the squeaky wheel will get them tired enough of the situation that they actually hire someone to do the job.
We're not in Canada anymore Toto....or the States, or England or Germany or Holland or Denmark or Belgium or Sweden or...or...or...or...or.....
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Now having lived here for two years, and we are on the third, I am finding that there is some merit to the system. Don't get me wrong, I don't love going shopping in the normal course of things, but buying groceries here is TOTALLY different than the normal NA experience.
There is a relationship that can occur when buying food. Let me illustrate. Today I had a stupendously delicious lunch:
Fresh baguette (from my favourite baker where I can bring Chuck in with me, we chatted about dogs today)
Tomatoes (from the same baker, grown here in our town by another customer)
with a touch of Olive oil, (from a friend's father's farm)
I also had scrambled eggs (from my favourite (weekly) market lady who lives in the next town and whose chickens eat *shock* vegetables!!! From her GARDEN! and whose daughter I taught English too last year...she gave me some eggs that had been reserved for another customer, I was a little late at 9:10 am...I reserved eggs for next week, and swiss chard and bay leaves...they come on a branch, you know, chopped off the tree!)
with oyster mushrooms (from a town just down the coast)
I also had fresh ripe splitting open figs (from the village)
with the very best Iberic Ham, from my favourite lady in the local daily market (we talked about my vegetarian kids)
and a nice strong cheese, almost a Parmesan, made here in Catalonia, (from the corner store that sells the most GOURMET stuff....and who has a lovely woman working there who has WAY too many deliveries to put away today)
I also had tea, organic Earl Grey (from a store in BCN, owned by a delightful coffee connoisseur from whom I have been buying the man's coffee for a while; who, I recently discovered, also sells the most astounding variety of teas, and seems quite knowledgeable. We had a lovely conversation about the different types of teas, and chai, and which teas are sweet and fruity, etc....He also once walked me down the street to his local restaurant when I went begging into his store asking to know where to get really good CATALAN food to celebrate that the Dr's had figured out the cause of Eldest's stomach ache.) -Lord, I love a run-on sentence. The tea is astonishingly good, the entire kitchen smells meltingly delicious when I make it. A high point to my day.
In my tea I had normal milk...I haven't found a better source,
and regular old sugar.... I would love to use the local honey that is made in our village more, but to be completely frank....it tastes like cough medicine. Blech. It is testing my willingness to eat locally. I may try and source another type of local honey...especially as the local honey maker just died.
after all that, I guess what I am trying to say in this long run-on way, is that buying food here is not only about buying food, and it has very little in common with battling through Loblaws, or Price Choppper, there is also a very real relationship that emerges with the food and the shopping.
When I ate my delicious lunch, it was not only delicious, but it was also scented by the smiles and conversations of the people who grew it, and who sold it to me.
That I like.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I am kind of a visual person, funny that way, and I was getting overwhelmed trying to keep track of everyone's changing schedule. Can you relate? Bet you can. THANK goodness for the man, his is Straight. Forward.
So I did a little spreadsheet thingy...with a ruler and paper, I'm old fashioned that way...and then colour coded it all, blue for teaching, yellow for at home taking care of folks and hanging together, purple for Catalan classes, etc etc etc...What does this say about me I wonder....anywhoooo....the white parts are for me to get from one place to another, walk Chuck, though maybe he should get a colour too, now that I think about it, and for me, you see, for me, I could read, or nap or paint, or sit numbly on the couch looking at the schedule. There is very little white. Well, there is quite a lot if you look between 11 pm and 7 am. Hmmm.
There is 45 minutes of white. Fortunately in the afternoon when everything, but everything is closed, so I cannot run errands then. SWEET!
That said, I am intimidated a bit, though I knew it would be like this with the Catalan classes that EAT MY LIFE. On top of that I am debating getting up at 6 to do yoga before the day starts. I tend to debate this more around 11 am than at 6 am. I am very certain at 6 am. There is no debate at all, I am not getting up, TYVM.
On another note; I think I am going to, in all that spare time, try to Blurb my blog, and photos....then they are harder to loose and can sit on a shelf, almost like a real book....well, actually, as a real book. That would be the point.
I also think I need a pedicure. My feet have always been dry and rough, but this is getting silly ladies and gentlemen, aging seems hard on the feet. I was sourcing (on-line of course) home pedicure treatments...seems I need sea salt and olive oil...can do. Maybe nail polish (or maybe not). Also hot water. Check.
Seems it involves mostly soaking, scrubbing and moisturizing. I can do that.
Maybe I'll post a blow by blow of it, though I am a little horrified by how bad my feet look. Ho hum.
Was that WAY too much information? Who knows, after that nasty rat photo how scary can my feet be?
Monday, September 22, 2008
A Canadian in Catalan is a Canadenca. Like, "Can a dink...ah"...drive a car?
It sounds so stupid, but you get used to it.
I had to change the recipe up, first of all, vegetarian, a stretch for most Catalan recipes....then I added my secret sauce. The ultimate make everything taste better (though maybe not chocolate)....Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce. God's greatest gift to humanity. Maybe humanity's greatest gift to humanity, whatever. I brought four litre and a half bottles when we left on the boat, and replaced every year.
It is, however, not even faintly traditional.
The other excitement is that our neighbours have a RAT. Now, rats are actually kind of cute, and I have even had a pair as a pet for a year when I babysat them for a friend...but wild rats, eying your home as a potential buffet....not so cool.
I mentioned it to the guys downstairs, they had a rather hilarious (to me) five minutes of looking. They were not exactly the image of brave warriors vanquishing the evil from the home and hearth. Two nervous guys with one broom between them would be more like it. Funny. Glad they aren't defending me from bears or anything, and with the raccoons? Definitely I was more brave. Just sayin'.
I saw the rat on Saturday, on the neighbour's back terrace, which doesn't connect to our place without a longish exposed pipe-climb(Thank god) with a firmly and now semi-permanently closed window and door at the top. I SO do not want rats. Eldest saw one on Sunday, and I saw one, or maybe two today...they were talking to each other so I get the distinct impression there is more than one. Sort of like mice and roaches, if you see one, you've got 20, if you see two, 40...three...you don't want to know.
They hung around so long, I even got a photo,
He's not so cute in the close up is he....kinda beady eyed...
Sunday, September 21, 2008
That isn't actually completely true, I quite liked soccer when I was in grade school.
Youngest loves basketball. For now anyway, and has joined the local team.
Guess what I went off and did today. Go on.... guess.
Yup...I found myself at the local polisportiu...community sports center....playing basketball! Know what? It's fun when you play with your kid.
I got booted off the court though when she got asked to play with a bunch of other kids.
I got to sit on the sidelines practicing dribbling. My forté it would seem.
Youngest's team won. She wasn't keeping score or anything. (She got TWO baskets!!!YAHOO!!!)
Friday, September 19, 2008
She is working hard, and almost sounding musical, but I would say that Chuck doesn't approve. He walked up, literally wiped his nose on the sheet of music on her lap, scrubbed his face on the couch like he had been smeared with jam, and as he was walking away he tossed one grumpy grumbly woof over his shoulder at her before lying down in his box. Poor dog must suffer more than the rest of us with his superior hearing.
It is almost starting to sound like a discernible tune!
Onto brighter things.
I have collected quite a few pine cones in the hills that have pine nuts in them. These ones are very fresh, which means they are very sticky.
My hands are, shall we say, a little grungy right now. Youngest helped me out, but must have oilier or sweatier hands than me, or is simply a little teflon girl, but my dried out wrinkly old hands are hanging onto the goo something fierce.
ooooo, it just started to rain and how...it is simply POOOUUUURing down.
We watched Muriel's Wedding tonight. Weird movie, did you ever see it?
My hands look like they've been dipped in bubblegum then in the sandbox. Goodness, I could use a little turpentine. Haven't got any though. Wonder if oil would get it off, it does for gum.
Let's go see......
Thanks for waiting. (Rain stopped, a short hard shower)
Guess what? The Catalans are right! Olive oil is the cure for everything, and my hands feel lovely now too....and smell odd, pine,turps and olive oil....
I think it would have worked even better if I'd oiled them before we started, no?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I was going to post photos but even those aren't organised.
I have been feeling pessimistic today, which I don't like, and which is unusual for me...I think it is the book I am reading: Karen Connelly's The Lizard Cage. It is insanely and horribly violent. Hard for it to be anything else since it is set in Burma, in a prison, during the period of Aung San Suu Kyi's brief exit from house arrest.
I would normally simply put a book like this down, and I am surprised that I have not, but it is a book more about nobility and hope and remaining human in totally inhumane situations, so I persist. It is, I think, bringing me down. Despair about the depth humanity can sink to.
I would also like to note that this is the first week of school and I swear it has been going on for at least a month and a half. Will it NEVER end. OMG.
That was cheery.
See what I mean about today?
I think I'll go,
Wishing you an optimistic tomorrow,
(There is a choir rehearsing nearby and it truly is beautiful...see I can still see the lovely things around me, I just seem to dribble away from them.)
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
A. Attached or Single? Yup, attached- and delighted about it.
B. Best Friend? The man, and a bunch of others, and my sister...I don't do best friend I guess. The man.
C. Cake or pie? Pie ALWAYS, especially if the man made it.
D. Day of choice? Every day, again, not so good at favourites or bests...
E. Essential item? What is essential...my kids, my man, food, housing, clothing....
F. Favorite color? Probably yellow...bright and cheery, though I love blue..especially the sea.
G. Gummy bears or worms? Worms I guess, Carla draws the line at gummy spiders- she says their gross; I've never seen one, but I'd try one...then there was that gummy naked man I saw here.....which I posted about, including a picture, but I cannot find that post....sorry.
H. Hometown? Toronto I guess.
I. Favorite indulgence? Chocolate, or pie, or fresh bread and olive oil, or tea, or figs in season, or a great tomato, or pringles (I know, they aren't really food, but), or gelato, or swiss chard cooked just right, or a great meal out, or...not good at favourites.
J. January or July? July. I am still in snow suit trauma.
K. Kids? Two...girl, girl.
L. Life isn’t complete without? Death. The glib - though accurate - instant response, but possibly true. To the spirit of the question? Books.
M. Marriage date? Yup.
N. Number of brothers and sisters? One younger sister.
O. Oranges or Apples? Depends.
P. Phobias? Losing a child.
Q. Quotes? Oh heck....I don't know....
R. Reasons to smile? Love, Travel, my kids, friends, goofy stuff that happens, the silly dog, walks in the mountains, or at the sea, sailing, time alone, time together...yadda yadda yadda....
S. Season of choice? Spring, summer, fall, winter kinda.
T. Tag....whoever wants too....
U. Unknown fact about me? This is post 669, what's left? Hmmm, I like thumb rings.
V. Vegetable? Love 'em, more and more every day....
W. Worst habit? Grumpiness.
X. X-ray or Ultrasound? mmmm, boring, lets change that up....Exclamations most used? Aside from the rude ones...ai caram, which makes the Catalans laugh cause it's such an old lady one...tough bananas....suck it up.....hmmm, I'll have to ask.
Y. Your favorite food? Favourites again, I so cannot do this...what DON'T I like? Liver, kidney, crap in my food, literally and figuratively, too salty chips, too salty anything, processed gummy non-food that you are forced to buy at too high a price because you are trapped somewhere like an airport and have no choice: near food seasoned with anger and outrage. Yuck.
Z. Zodiac sign? We didn't have a zodiac, we have a hard dingy we rowed everywhere when we lived on the boat. Love her endlessly.
So there you go, feel free to add your own, change it up and do it or not....
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I gathered some yesterday with a couple of plastic bags and a fair amount of care....
Today I singed off the prickles by sticking a knife into them where they were attached to the cactus and holding them over the gas stove.
Remove all the pears from the plastic bag before you begin as the hot knife will melt the plastic onto it as you get the next.
Don't try and hold the pears through the bag, you cannot see the spines and therefore get stuck.
There must be another way, thought the only one I know if is to burn the spines off once you get home. I think it would work better if I had a hard container like a yogurt tub (if they only made yogurt in such large quantities here) so that they are more contained, and easier to handle. A spike might also be easier than the knife. I would also look less like a naughty teenager at the end of it all...."NO Mom, really, we weren't doing anything with the knives...we were cleaning prickly pears! REALLY. "
Monday, September 15, 2008
On to other topics....
I have been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, which I am loving and which meshes nicely with the 100 mile diet which I read earlier this summer. Both books are about the importance of living more lightly on this planet, and the way they are discussing it is by eating more locally. The difference between the two books is that Kingsoliver is a GREAT writer, and the 100 mile diet folks were fine. Kingsoliver went into her process with this with a good deal of preparation and knowledge, and as a result ate INCREDIBLY well, honestly they eat such yummy food. oh ohohohoh.
The 100 mild diet folks seemed to be bordering on starvation at first till they got themselves better organised.
That said, I think there is a lot of important information and very important ideas about eating locally, organically, supporting the farmers, specifically the small food growing farmers that are working so hard. Not that large commodities farmers don't need help...more like prayers the way the systems are set against them right now, but we can help the smaller local farmers by where we chose to spend our money and what we choose to eat.
I find this easier here...it is a farming community at heart, and the forn where I buy my fresh locally made bread (thought the wheat comes from I know not where) also carries the tomatoes and beans of whomever is working them in town....and the figs are ripe right now, so everyone has them and cheap. I may try and figure out how to make fig jam....oh that would be so good.
Also my favorite market lady also happens to be a farmer, the only one at our local weekly market, the others have fruit and veg shops and the produce comes from I know not where. My local lady certainly sells more than just her produce, but I walked by her farm yesterday and saw the vines that are going to be feeding us in weeks to come. I am tempted to buy a lot and make can some sauce. I may just try it. Hmmmmm.
Finally, here, I get to find food. While out walking the dog I picked up several prickly pears, which will serve for part of our lunch, as well as several pine cones that I will get youngest to smash open for the pine nuts. mmmm, love those too.
I also found a fig tree, but it is so encased by blackberry brambles I am not sure I am quite hungry enough for that.
In Toronto it is trickier, but there are organic and farmers markets in most neighbourhoods, usually on the weekends, for instance I know that High Park has one, and yes, the produce is more expensive, but it also pays for healthy soil, good food, reduced pollution and emissions, and working farms. That said I am really bad about buying it in Toronto because I am busy and disorganised, but I am struggling to do better about it next year....and if you live there, you could even build up a relationship with the farmer and possibly purchase more in bulk when it is ripe and put it away for later.
Something I have to work at.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
First day of school tomorrow...Eldest to high school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
New schedule, new system, new buddies....she's suddenly a little edgy.
Who can blame her.
I did get a little tired of paintings that were variations on their penises. Alright already, we know you have one, let it GOOOOOOOoooooo. It was good on the whole. Strange group of folks. It was also proof positive that the current generation was neither invented, nor has a hammerlock on freakishness. The words 'pale imitations' comes to mind.
The Ikea furniture came early and we had an orgy of assembly, which all went surprisingly smoothly, and we almost look like adults live here, it is quite amazing...and we had a friend for dinner....after all that...well, I am posting Sunday morning...the last day of summer for the girls.
I wonder how many relationships have been ruined by putting together Ikea furniture. The man and I were immune to that issue, you see, we've anchored together.
Friday, September 12, 2008
zune marketplace is getting under my skin. 'nuff said.
Picassa changed the program again, I just want to post a couple of photos not relearn the d#mn system.
Lets see if I get some picies up or not.
Here is a small selection from the summer.
I love being out of Toronto so I can see the stars...
Bill Reid, seen in Ottawa, the man is amazing...and the tail looks kind of like Chuck's.
Seen, and photographed at Petroglyphs Provincial Park. (SOC!!!)
Raccoon prints to prove my tale was true!
That flour trick was great.
On the bow of our friends' boat in Rhode Island. Took a tone of photos, you'll probably see more.
At our campsite one morning, I had never seen stick insects in the wild before!
Went soloing in the canoe one morning while we were camping...it was lovely.
There you go, a little show and tell.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Gotta study some Catalan, though my ability to speak is whizzing right back....I'm gonna walk the dog with a friend, play some basketball with youngest, tidy a bit more, cook a relaxed dinner...some swiss chard and I think a spinach frittata are in the offing....sounds yummy.
Gotta love a quiet day when you all need one.
Tomorrow, BCN and Ikea. Yee gods.
We have so much yummy fruit right now.
....later........ someone found this site by searching google, well a lot of folks have, but this person typed in, "sharkbait juggler" I wonder what they thought when they got here, and how on earth that relates to me?
Can you imagine typing that into google ever? Someone has. Hi out there, hope you liked the site. I would go into sharkbait juggling cautiously. Really cautiously. And in Kansas. Good place to practice. just sayin'.
....later still......someone else came after googling toilet seat cleaner amsterdam. I imagine they were disappointed by something, no?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I was smarter this year, I thought. I would be one of the first 100. Many people had slept outside the school overnight last time, so I had no intention of being quite THAT early.
Seems I was, see, I was third in the cue this time.
It was nearly an hour before the fourth person arrived and at most the cue was about 50 people long.
I've been sleepy all day.
And I was forced to repeat the same level as last time, though my language level is certainly different, I had a group of four kids over making dinner for instance, all in Catalan, and I was talking to a neighbour at the same time.
Seems I should be another level up.
In reality I should be able to go into the school and talk to the teachers and get shifted up a level. Here's hoping, cause it'll be mighty boring to be in the same group again and it is a heck of a lot of work getting in there, to repeat. It isn't that I wouldn't learn anything, of course I would, but I think I would learn more by moving up a level. I have been practicing what I learned since last January for heaven's sake.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Looking into it all.
Chuck is following me slavishly around the apartment and is morose when I go out. Pobrecito.
On another note, the system here for getting school books is totally whacked.
Youngest's school was pretty good, you order them at the end of the school year for the next, and they school places a mass order and sells them the week before school starts. VERY expensive...not quite the same as in Canada.
Eldest's school however is not so well organised. You are given the list of books you will need in July (we were in Canada), then you have to go to the bookstore (in another town) and place an order, and then you have to go and pick them up. How convenient. Especially if you get the list the week before school starts, and then they don't have many of the books. Ho hum. We'll have to get some later....
Eldest is crushed. Not.
I just realised that I have to sign up for my Catalan class TOMORROW morning!!! with originals and photocopies!!!!!!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Try to never ever ever fly through Frankfurt, and if you have to....give yourself lots of time for the transfer....lots and lots and lots, like hours extra.
Dinner out at the local bar then BED.
Youngest got about an hour and a half of sleep and is going like she had a full night, don't know how she does it.
Chuck is fine, a lighter colour than we remembered, and he is trying to be annoyed with us, but keeps forgetting. It is fairly humorous.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
It was so very Canadian, loons crying, trees, water, fish, lakes, stars, campfires and marshmallows...you know the deal.
I am now trying to figure out how to get a little bit of land on a lake....I am not sure we can pull that off, but a girl can dream.
Probably no more updates till next week, I still only have very sporadic internet access, so wishing you all well,