Saturday, January 31, 2009
My theme is:
All the books I got on Friday!!!!!
Not only did all these books arrive from Amazon (plus one more that didn't make the picture) and Thank you everyone for the Amazon money...what a great gift!
Hold on though, two of those books were surprise books also arrived all in the same day!
These two books,
Sea Glass by Anita Shrive and The Female Brain by Louanne Brizendine came as wonderful gifts from the fabulous Beth at Books Etc. (though I always think of you as Booksbeth, go figure)
Thank you Beth! That is so so so kind of you, and I am so looking forward to reading them...they look utterly fascinating.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Sent by a friend.
Well, she didn't send a little white box, however amusing and Dali-esque that might have been...it was a picture of a woman with a cup of coffee in her hand, and next to it was a text that read:
I'll have a Café-Mocha-Vodka-Valium-Latte to go, please"
Help a little?
Have a great weekend, more later,
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wanted to add a little more about our Amsterdam adventure....
Part of why the Dutch speak such good English is that so many of the movies are offered in the original language, so while we were there we went and saw the latest Woody Allen, Vicky Christina Barcelona. It was really very very good. What's her name, the famous one was good, the Spanish lover type was suitably smoldering. I do have to say that I had some trouble with one issue though. The Spanish lover, who was introduced as a famous Catalan painter had a very Spanish name and spoke only Spanish through the entire film. They also listened to Flamenco, which is from Andalucia and is not Catalan and the character who was doing a masters in Catalan identity was studying Spanish.
That said, great film, and pathetically, I think that is the first time I have been to a movie theater since before eldest was born. Weird that.
We also went to the zoo....four kids, beautiful day....off we went. Lots of cute and interesting animals, and lots of happy kids.
Plus I did a little shopping...I didn't buy this bag, though I have to confess I love it, and I could have gotten MILES of obedience training out if it, threatening eldest that I would wear it out in public if she didn't reform....
Plus I got the man this hat!!!! It's from BC hats in Australia. He has needed a hat for AGES, and occasionally buys himself (appalling) ones because they are cheap. I don't think it's cheap if they're that ugly, but anyway...so I got him one that wasn't cheap, but is really nice....a bac pac traveler...I have to admit, I kinda want one myself.
and it fit!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I decided to take a more whole language approach to the problem and bought me a novel....I had been hearing about Haruki Murikame a lot, and so I picked up, "El meu amor, sputnik" in English, "Sputnick Sweetheart" (Mostly because it was the only one in Catalan rather than Spanish)
The book is a little (read quite a lot) more depressing than I would normally aim at, but goodness gracious me, I was so happy to be able to read it so, well, so easily that NOTHING could bring me down. Read the entire book in 4 days! Slower than my English standards, but considering I was in Amsterdam doing stuff too....not too shabby.
The ending stymied me though....I had put it down for a bit and then I got lost, so I backed up and took a run at it...going back seven or eight pages and trying again. I understood it enough to realise that he is being deliberately ambiguous, which is tricky when reading a book in a foreign language....
Amsterdam, overlaid with Japanese novels read in Catalan.
Now to find another.
He is a brilliant writer...whatever the language.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Please note that at the end there's a link to an organisation at the bottom that you can click to do something about it...if you're American.
Breaking news from The Huffington Post:
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.
Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.
...Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republican senatorial campaigns were needed, they argued..."If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs," Marcus declared.
Not only are some of the most non-trusted companies in America blatantly trying to buy off Congress, but they're using our bailout money to do it.
This will ONLY change when elections are citizen funded. Join our strike4change to (1) starve the beast, (2) just say no, or (3) fix this absurd system -- now. No money until a candidate commits to citizen funded elections.
Monday, January 26, 2009
OK...I GOT NEW SHOES!!!!!
Can you tell I've already taken them into the hills and the dog has stepped on my feet?
I will grant that they are not the boots I was hoping for, though I did see a pair of blundstones, they were putting weird pressure on the big toe nail of my right foot, so that was out.
I came across this pair of Merrill shoes, that I love love love...OK, that may be extreme, cause they aren't exactly the coolest shoes in the world, but they are comfy, black suede and slip on....most everything I was hoping for. See???
Ok, ok, ok....they don't scream cool....but they're good and they're warmer than the converse and I am happy......
and that is good.
Yes indeed-y....Eldest and I scooted up for a weekend in Amsterdam, where a very dear friend lives...extra cool because Eldest is buddies with the daughter, and me with the Mom, how sweet is that.
The story gets sweeter, because this lovely excursion was in lieu of a birthday party (something I hate going to and giving but don't tell my kids that, m'kay) (not that they don't already know).
Anywhoooo, we agreed that instead of a birthday party with a pack of hormonal kids and all that, we would go up to Amsterdam for a weekend to visit friends, so we did. The gods of airline prices had kept prices low enough that I don't have to entertain and handle mountains of teens in my place.
Thank you airline gods for that. From the bottom of my heart.
I don't have a LOT of photos from Amsterdam because those Dutch don't let you take photos inside their museums, we won't go into all that again, but let's just say that I nearly stopped breathing when I saw the Rembrandt's "Jewish Bride" in person. I do have to say that the Rijksmuseum has gotten it together with the website though, so here is the link to the painting on their fabulous web-page. I can forgive them for the lack of photo ops if they provide a web page of that quality.
I also don't have many photos of Amsterdam cause it rained so much the day we were in town walking around. LOVE 2 degrees and a downpour. NOT happy camera weather.
The first day was frankly amazing, we packed enough in for a week....got up WAY too early, but arrived running, went to the Rijksmuseum in a light mist, dodging the murderous streetcars, loving the tippy wobbly buildings, not grand an Napoleonically imposing like Paris, nor cramped and logical like BCN, individual, and leaning, and wobbly...with canals, and fewer cars, separated roads, bikes and trams and trams and bikes and pedestrians.
I LOVE Amsterdam...the weather is another subject.
When we left the Rijksmuseum, and my heart had found it's normal place in my body again...have I mentioned that I love Rembrandts? The Vermeers and Hals weren't too hard on the eyes either....
anyway, be still my newly found heart...I found SHOES!
That's worth a post on it's own, so more later on that topic.
Then the heaven's opened and it started absolutely BUCKETING down on us...and I was too cheap to buy a crappy umbrella for too much money that we all hate....so we got wet. Have I ever mentioned how much eldest hates being wet? She can complain about that at tremendous length. Really. Not a happy camper. I was though cause the new shoes were so comfy but more about that another day...
We then went to the Anne Frank Museum. I can just say that it wasn't most easily described as comfy. Horrors above in fact.
I honestly found it difficult, and welled up several times. I think it hit home harder because I was with eldest...the toughest moment for me was when I turned around and saw my child lined up with the marks they had drawn on the wall to show their children's growth while they were in hiding. I could simply picture them doing it, and how excited the kids were to be measured. It always made me feel so special that your parents draw on the wall just to check how you've grown; and there was eldest right in the middle of it. Lord above. Makes you want to vomit.
Leaving there we went out into the drenching rain, me at least glad to recognise that we COULD go out and get soaked....and walked towards the train. We were trotting along beside a lovely canal, and I looked down into a doorway; there are many doorways that are well below street (and one would think water) level, the top of the door coming to about knee level when you stride by, and the stairs are VERY steep....there was a woman bending over in the glass doorway in a neglig*e and I thought to myself that I would probably put on a little more before picking up the mail, but what the heck. We got to the next window a stride or two later, and low and behold (literally) there was another well-endowed woman, scantily clad in her doorway. The penny dropped, and just for affirmation, a step or two on, there is another woman, in another doorway, and at this point I notice the red florescent light by the door....at this point eldest looks at me and asks, "What is......"
I explain about the laws in Holland, continue about the pros and cons of legalisation (trying to be unbiased and failing fairly miserably...the only pro is health and I ain't too sure about that)....Eldest was, shall we say...uncomfortable....we rounded a corner and came across a two story building with windows and women and not a whole lot of clothing all over the place....quick march Mom, lets go; but we had missed our train out to our friend's place so I suggested a hot chocolate in a cafe (Hey, we're from Spain, cafe culture and all that, even in a freezing downpour) Eldest took a little convincing that the cafe was fine in that neighbourhood...we peered in the windows carefully.
My little joke about sitting in the window seat and stripping off a bit to see if we could get a free cocoa didn't go over very well.
A leeeetle uncomfortable.
We got rained on more, got our train, got rained on a whole lot more, and then had a WONDERFUL evening with friends.
Quite a day...
Travel - sublime art - some of the greatest humanity has made - (shoes) - some of the worst horrors humanity has ever committed, closely followed by a pretty darned nasty ongoing horror- followed up by friends...all lightly seasoned ( I can hear eldest thinking that it was too heavily seasoned) with rain.
That was only the first day!
Hope your weekend was a good one,
Thursday, January 22, 2009
He looked like a complete sleaze ball. You know the kind, the one with the bad pick-up line who preys on the slightly drunk really unhappy girl. He's got (old) condoms, and maybe a dose of date rape drug in his wallet, damp hands and wears a gold chain.
You know the ones I mean?
But here's the rub...
I'm trying to nail down exactly what it is that makes some guys look like such scuz and others look great.
What is it though...
Here's what I can pick out for me...
* It is NOT the cut of the suit.
* Slicked back hair...often but not always
* There is a dangerous level of undone buttons...too low and you're in scum-land.
* Heavy necklaces and any gold bracelet is the kiss of death (usually).
* Some smiles, but I cannot nail down why some are so obsequious and disgusting....
* Stubble, but this can also be attractive...
* Generally darker blue shirts look scuzzy.
* Goaties...not always, but.....
* Sideburns. Well, these never look good but they don't always look like the warning sign for half-wit mysoginists either.
Some men also swing back and forth; some guys normally look quite respectable, then one day they put on a certain suit, or comb their hair a certain way and you get that shudder response.
So, I think we all know who sets our radar screeching...but but but but
Something I've been pondering for a bit....thought I'd throw it out there.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
1. Sitting in the sun today, feeling how hot it was drinking coffee with a great book.
2. That great book.
3. Buying books for Eldest that she was DYING to read...in (get this) in Catalan!
4. The vet commented that youngest has NO ACCENT!!!
*no one has said that to me* (yet)
Chuck just stared me in the eye and swallowed so loudly I could hear it. Weird.
This tooth feels like a weird foreign thing in my mouth. Still.
5. I can take the next pain killer! Indeed, pain killers exist!!!
6. Got a hair cut and I like it a lot...thanks to my man for cutting it!
7. Artichokes are in season. YES!!!!!!!!!!
What's NOT to be happy about. SO so so so sosoooo good, and €1.90 a kilo!!!
8. Heading for bed where it's warm and comfy....sweet sweet deal.
So...riding the optimistic Obama wave of hope...
what's sweet in your world?
Have a great day,
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
That Obama post was number 800. Who'd a thought.
On a less global note, I have a couple of photos from today, and none of them are garbage. I did pick up my share of moto parts, shotgun shells and plastic, but these I thought were a little nicer to look at.....
Chuck is an opportunist. I was having a wee siesta on the couch. Seems he joined me. I am a fairly solid sleeper. The photo let me know.
Look who I saw in the hills. Hope he makes it through hunting season, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Do you like this mushroom? Do you think it is screaming out, "Go on, eat me, I'm fine!!" Or maybe not.
Pretty funky mushroom nonetheless.
Monday, January 19, 2009
SO, here is some OH so inspiring photography...a gift from me to you.....
First, evidence of my trash haul, including some of that moto I mentioned...
When I got out towards the end of the walk I discovered that the local goat herd had passed ahead of me....LOOK at these tracks! There are a LOT of goats in this herd. They even eat prickly pear cacti...can you imagine?!?!
I didn't take a photo of all their little poo pellets on the road out, though I was tempted....
And here is a close-up of their cute little hoof tracks...should have tossed a pen in for scale, but what the heck...they're small, m'kay?
On another note, went back to the dentist...she took the stitch out with considerable ouch difficulty. *gasp* and though it hurts more, it feels better without the stitch if that makes any sense at all. She also, to my relief, said that it is normal that it still hurts (like the dickens) and that it is all still quite messy and inflamed. I have to go back in 2 weeks for the cap/reconstruction/whatever that is called in English but not a crown nor a filling.
A very very careful icecream and hot coffee drinker for some time to come. No popcorn either.
Tepid tea is not quite the same. Ho hum.
Can I also just add that I am reading Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier and it is EXCELLENT. Especially for anyone who loves books and words and language.....if you live to read...read this. Excellent, so far anyway...about half way at this point, and I am loving it.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
You see, we are supposed to head out into our local neighbourhood armed with a plastic bag, gloves and a camera then we pick up the trash, take some photos and post how we're making the world a little bit better in a little way.
Spreading the goodness.
I'm all signed up, and finally got organised to do it on Friday. Camera? Check. Bags? Check. Gloves? NAaahhhh.
I went out with Chuck on our usual walk and easily filled a grocery bag, on what I had always perceived as a pretty clean route. Mostly plastic bags and water bottles (how I hate those things) along with some shot gun shells (not my favourites either) but did I remember to take a photo?
That would be a no, duh.....
There is an abandoned moto in the hills in bits and pieces, that should take me a while to haul out a chunk at a time.....
Hopefully some photos to follow...
So, what do you think, are you up for a little clean up with me?
All you need is a bag, a camera and a little memory...where I seem to be lacking.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Now, when you need to take some medicine in North America your choices are pretty straight forward. A pill, a capsule or syrup.
Here we have some more variety.
There are pills.
There are capsules.
There is syrup.
There is also a most amazing love affair with fizzy powdered medicine you mix with water, sort of like neo-citran. So with the ibuprofen I have the choice of pills for 600mg, capsules for 400 or little envelops that fizz when you add the water for 200.
Now it gets weirder. There are also suspensions. This means that you get a bottle with powder in it, and you have to add just the right amount of water to it and shake and shake and shakeshakeshake. Only lasts a week in the fridge.
Finally was the weirdest one yet. With this tooth thing, they offered me a prescription for some SERIOUS painkillers. They came in little glass bottles.
You break the top off (being careful not to slice yourself as you break the glass with your bare hand wrapped in the tail of your shirt. SAFETY is us.) THEN...well, normally it would be injected either intramuscularily or intravenously. I was instructed to drink it. Straight. Glass shards and all.
Apparently the taste is astoundingly appalling. Forget Dr. Bukleys' "if it tastes bad it must be working" We're talking OMG I'm going to die terrible.
Decided I wasn't in that sort of pain.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Trying to step down to 400 mg of Ibuprofen three times a day...only one class tomorrow, I may manage it.
The man trolled off the BCN with MOUNTAINS of papers to see a gestor. We are learning the techniques of Spanish - probably everyone's- bureaucracy bring it all and then some.
The very fact that gestors exist should make one a little anxious. Their job is exclusively and simply to deal with paperwork...you know, cut through red tape. Seems a bad sign to me. Then again, they're presence does give hope that we might get through it some day.
Two and a half years after arrival, and the kid's Spanish citizenship is still not with us. We did take a big step forward today...I hope. Next step is to get their (long form) birth certificates, that have been ratified by both the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Spanish Embassy in Ottawa - translated into Spanish. All that ratifying makes them seem like some kind of international agreement instead of a couple of kids, no?
This of course is after a full 40 minute search to find the forms. They weren't where they should have been, and they turned up- finally - in with the MOUNTAINOUS quantity of papers I needed to register eldest for school.
It's maybe a good idea to touch every single sheet of paper in your house now and then, do you think?
Can I also just make a little suggestion here?
If anyone is about to fill out one of those forms for a newborn baby that they hand you about 6 minutes after you squeeze out the afterbirth PRINT NEATLY! They didn't tell me this form was going to be THE official birth certificate. OMG. It is barely legible. HOW the translator is going to manage I cannot imagine. I wrote it lying on my back in bed for goodness sakes.
I tell you though, my exhausted hormone ladened body was not up to the task, and if the kid's citizenship hangs on my penmenship moments after managing natural childbirth...so help me...I.... I...... I .....I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pretty.
This is version of one of my most effective threats with the kids, "If you do that again, I don't know what I will do, but I can guarantee that YOU won't like it." Truly dreadful sounding and it leaves their imagination to come up with the worst thing possible, which I could never dream up in a million years. Try it sometime. It's a great one.
Wish us luck.
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to the translator we go.....
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The [Maryland] state police antiterrorism unit spied upon, infiltrated and documented groups of Marylanders who had the nerve to disagree with the policies of their government.....The troopers zeroed in on Roman Catholic nuns, human rights activists and church groups. They monitored animal rights advocates and cyclists pushing for more bicycle lanes. They opened a dossier on Amnesty International. (That group's crime was listed as "human rights.")...... even Quakers, the ultimate pacifists, constituted a "security threat group." from Neil McDonald on CBC News
Gotta watch out for those Quakers. Geez. They're such a rough and violent type. I'd be worried sick if my girls were dating one of them. Not to mention those bike lane advocates....better be careful of those types.
Moving to something a little less silly....
OK....what are you reading? Other than this blog at this moment...
Here goes, I just finished "At World's End" by Ken Follett. Mini review? OK, but it went on TOOOOOOOO long. Just a leeeeeetle too much drama thankyouverymuch.
I'm also reading "Spoken Here: Travels among threatened languages" by Mark Abley, which is well written and fascinating, though rather more depressing than I had anticipated. That said, I am not sure how I would have thought it could be much but depressing...anyway...
I am also slooooowwlyyyyyy reading "The Land of Naked People" by Madhursree Mukerjee Not as titillating as it may seem, indeed also depressing as it is about the, well, the extermination of an entire culture and group of indiginous people. Cheery stuff.
Recently I finished "Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy" by Lawrence Lessig, which was utterly fascinating...also Nora Ephron, "I feel bad about my neck: and other thoughts on being a woman", which was funny and had a great line in it that runs through my head...."When your children are teenagers it is important to have a dog in the house so that someone is happy when you get home." Halleluja sister.
"Nine Parts of Desire: the hidden world of Islamic women"by Geraldine Brooks is also a recent read, fascinating, don't let your younger daughters near it gory in spots, horrifying in spots, frustrating in spots and dreary in spots.....and also utterly fascinating, and not without it's good points too....good things are happening as well....
I'm now deliberating between "The Origin of the Species" by Nino Ricci who I have never read, also "The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz, and "The Bean Trees" by Barbara Kinsolver, one of my favourite authors (though I will admit that "The Poisonwood Bible" remains my least favourite of her works....I am also looking speculatively at a Bruce Chatwin reread....Aids has taken so many brilliant people, it would be stunning to have more books by that man.
So? Whatcha readin'?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
'Bout sums up my day, though thankfully it doesn't wiggle. Just hurts...BORING.
Quick check in with the dentist, I was confused about a few things, so I brought my handsome translator with me and we got some stuff figured out....mostly things are fine and normal, though not pleasant.
Better today, though good would be an exaggeration.
On another topic, the man and I do not have drivers licences here...the hassle factor as Canadians is EPIC. We have to take the tests like any 18 year old and it is super expensive..hundreds of Euros. So, we haven't done it yet.
The other day I walked to a neigbouring larger town to get the wifi equipment I needed and to get some cables repaired to fix our internet woes....I happened to go past a driving school and thought, as nothing was open yet, that I would ask a few questions.
Amongst other things they let me take a trial run at one of the written driving tests.
It had some weird questions. All multiple choice.
1. If driving for a long distance, should the driver
a. refrain from food and beverages
b. eat and drink lightly
c. eat and drink normally.
2. If you arrive at an the scene of an accident and you find a person bleeding from the ears and nose should you
a.b.and c. all things you should NEVER do, as they all involve moving the unconscious victim and NONE involved covering the guy up to help prevent shock, nor calling for emergency services.
3. If you are driving and you have drunk a moderate amount of alcohol, it's will
a. increase your reaction time, but decrease your coordination.
b. something completely positive for your driving skills
c. something moderately positve for your driving skills.
I would have thought all of the above were wrong, but the first one was correct.
There were more and they were weird.
Ho hum. Don't see licences appearing in the near future for either of us.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I also want to give a great big thank you to the inventors of local anaesthetics.
Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.....
oh....and thank you to the folks who brought us anti-biotics, and ibuprofin.
Also frozen peas.
and to the man who went and bought it all. Especially to him.
Friday, January 9, 2009
OK, the last photos from Paris...
This is from....I can't remember where originally. You see with the Louvre, you go for ACRES and acres...and then your brain cannot absorb another thing, and you still have to walk for miles and miles and miles through hectares of spectacular art...it blurs...but this....was so impressive we stopped and gazed at it. We appreciated it for what it is...now...and know NOTHING about it at all....lovely though. (possibly from Cyprus, but that is quite a guess.)
Funky Napoleonic armchair....three people could all do each other's hair at the same time.
From the sublime....to the SEWERS!!!!
Here for your edification is some genuine Parisienne sewer sludge.
Sewer sludge boots....and (aaaahhhhggggg) sandals! Think about it....eeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww.
Back to the sublime...have I mentioned that my BIL is a great cook? Best quiche I EVER ate....
Eldest loves this mask...looks angsty and adolescent...and lovely too.....
I had heard little about this painter...though it turns out he was instrumental in getting the Impressionist work to the Musée D'Orsay...seems he was a painter....and he was rich, so he helped support a bunch of the other artists, and collected their work, and then donated it to the D'Orsay...or their predecessor....and he can P.A.I.N.T. Gustave Caillebotte.
I find something in this portrait so compelling.
This is his work too, and I love it as well....not as pretty as much of the Impressionist work, but powerful.
Van Gogh, the blue isn't as rich and profoundly powerful as in real life....
Degas.....Wishwishwish I could do this...and he was loosing his eyesight....omgoodness...
Snow was a bit of a theme for the week....
Monet at the L'Orangerie....these suckers were truly astonishing.....
Ok...that's it....Paris.....enough, m'kay.
The only bit of colour in this post....at the George Pompidou....
Sadly, I don't understand all the graffiti, so if it says something REALLY terrible, let me know m'kay? That'd be you elP.
The church at Montmartre....was FILLED with tourists (unlike us....) ....but still had some interesting points..
I like this one...me on a bad day....or maybe a good day.
I like the geometry of this shot....all curves and angles...
These freaky shoes...like em? You could be sporting these for a mere 650€!!! That's gotta be around 800 bucks...look like Dr Suess, no?
Cannot remember the artist's name, but it was a whole room....and if I think about it, I'll come up with it....give me a bit...it's called Winter Garden at the Pompidou ...Keith Haring maybe? Looks like his work.
Do you like the flying buttresses????
More graffiti I don't understand...
Lots of grey....