Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tired, and busy and having fun.

Don't you like this bat? He is part of the decoration on the Arc de Triomf in BCN. A bat in German is a fledermaus, which means flutter mouse. Isn't that absolutely perfect? My other favorite German word is in cranky house, as in a hospital. Just so accurate.

We all went into BCN again today...the idea was to go to the Catalan History Museum, but by the time we had found a forn for bread, a supermarcado for other goodies, wandered under the Arc de Triumph, and noshed on the goodies we had bought, we were having to move a little faster.....

We wandered down into the Parc de la Ciutadel and there we got stuck. The parc de la Ciutadel (fort) was originally built by the Castillians. The razed many blocks of houses and built a big honking fort on the spot from which they could and did lob cannon balls and foot soldiers into the city to keep the people under control. It was not popular with the Catalans.

Eventually the political climate changed enough that the Castillians ceded to the inevitable, and handed it over to the Catalans who promptly pulled it down, thus saving Madrid the cost of demolition. When BCN hosted the world fair, with a phenomenal lack of success, sometime in the late 1800's, they turned this space into an enormous park. There are several museums and fountains and statues, and the zoo is there. Along with a whole lot of open space. An extremely rare commodity in BCN. The kids were delighted to be there. We wandered over to a playground, and had a good go around there until we were descended upon by what appeared to be a remarkably short and high pitched hoard of screaming banshees....I think it was at least two school groups at once. We beat a hasty retreat.

There is a model of a woolly mammoth there which we trolled by, and a great big fat fountain, that is massively overdone and quite spectacular. The statues have none of the cool distant containment that classical Greek or Roman sculpture embodies. These folks are partying hard. There are naked ladies arranged traditionally, but looking coy, and shepherds slack-jawed with astonishment and delight, like 15 year old boys who suddenly discover a houseful of naked 18 year old girls when they arrive home....

There was also a surprising amount of wildlife for such a desperately urban place. We saw these ducklings,

And also these turtles catching some rays...

One of the things I love about BCN is that the buildings are all different, and that there is tremendous attention to detail.

Look at this building....

This is just brick work. Plain old bricks and a bit of imagination. Isn't it a whole heck of a lot more interesting than most of the brick work that you see around?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Atwood, a ring and Anarchy


Bagged has been an outstandingly busy day, and a very fun one.

But boy O boy, I'm wiped.

We went into Barcelona today, just my Godmother and I. We went to the big fat flea market that they have there every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday morning. I love it. I love markets at the best of times, and this is a good one. Though rather HOT. A brain boiler. Maybe that is why they refer to your brain pan.

I picked up a couple of things, hand towels for the kitchen, sounds boring but it was exciting, I got a large cast iron frying pan...YAHOO! and this:

It was not exactly what I was aiming at, but when I asked the price he said ten Euros. I didn't want it for ten. No thanks.

OK, five Euros...

No, thank you...

OK, Three?

Fine deals done. Seems this one had my name on it...I do like it quite a bit, and yes, that is my wrinkly thumb. Years of sailing, constant immersion, hauling on ropes, sunscreen that wasn't waterproof and naturally dry skin has left my hands pretty wrinkly...though they looked pretty much the same when I was 22 as well...


Several people have asked how I am getting on with the Margaret Atwood book. I am reading "The Robber Bride". It is much better than I feared it would be, but I am not in love. There is no doubt in this world that Atwood has a rare skill, and can craft a sentence that makes me green with jealousy. She has a true mastery of wordsmithing. I do have to wonder however why she has chosen such a clunky storyline. There is one main character who is the incarnation of evil, and three protagonists, who have all been wronged in the distant past by the evil woman. Atwood chooses to play the day the protagonists meet her after several years three times over. One from each protagonists perspective, and I am now going through three versions of the evil the nasty woman did to each in their youth.

This strikes me as very undergrad. Just not a smooth way of telling a story. On a sentence level, the book is excellent. At the paragraph too, even the internal chapter and section level it is very good, but her insistence on plowing us all through this three times over seems like a bit of determined showmanship. See, look at me, I can write so well that you will even tolerate this idiotic plot lay out. For me, just tolerate would be more accurate.

I got it Maggie, the woman's a rotten person. She's selfish and takes joy out of destroying others, especially the weak.

I got it.

This same heavy-handedness is what drove me away from the Handmaid's Tale, although the problem there for me was not so much a matter of either repetition, or determinedly poor structure as the bludgeoning we received from the imagery. Lead footed.

I am not yet an Atwood fan, but I must say, I never expected to enjoy one of her books as much as I am. I will probably finish it, which is saying something. I won't if it is too bad. I also have to say that I have not finished the book and all may be redeemed at the end. No spoilers in the comments please...It would not be ther first time that a book was written to be deliberately slow for, oh say, the first half or more, and then it all gets turned over and is spectacular by the finish.

I may never become an Atwood fan, but I may well become a willing, though cautious, reader.

On a humourous note, during the local elections, the Anarchist party had their say as well. Of course being Anarchists they did not put up posters, or run candidates, or attend the meetings. Their campaign consisted of graffiti...usually on other candidates campaign posters.

Most often it was that ever familiar anarchy A, but in several places they have added more.

"No Vota
Por favor"
then the symbol.

Well I must say that these are the best brought up anarchists that I have ever heard of.

Don't vote, please. Anarchy.

I wonder if they serve tea too?

There is a long and distinguished history of Anarchists in Catalonia, and my husband's grandfather was a fighting embattled Anarchist in Spain at a time when that had real meaning...Despite this, my father-in-law used to say that he wasn't a very good anarchist since he sent his kids to school.

Maybe it is all part and parcel of the please. That wouldn't thrill those punk teenagers hanging out in dark corners to know that the real fighting Anarchists sent their kids to school, and their followers use please....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A crap overrated writer and stuff...(isn't "stuff" the sign of a great writer itself?)

Hemingway is a testosterone loaded chest-thumping blood-glorifying nincompoop and the resurgence of his popularity here makes me SQUIRM.

There are new translations of his work out, and folks have asked me about him, but the bottom line is that I think that he sucks, and that if he hadn't killed himself, and hadn't marketed himself so efficiently he would have disappeared back into the slimy sweat-smelling hole from whence he slithered.

His book "The Sun also Rises" which he wrote while in Spain during the Spanish Civil War was little more than an exultant romp through all things uber-cliched-masculine with little or no thought of meaning or humanity. It made me nauseous.

Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia", also in the Spanish Civil War, which Orwell was here for, is a more balanced view of events and not a celebration. I am not sure what bizarre quirk there was inside Hemingway's head to make him so obsessed with all things hyper-masculine, but OMG, I am so done with him.

If any of you out there are being forced to read him...well, my sympathies. There are much better English language writers.


OK. I feel much better thankyouverymuch.

I had a wonderful walk with the dog today, it is cooler but so clear...the photo at the top is the view out of the living room, and this was on the walk today....

Youngest drew this in school today...bilingual art. Nice to see.

The reverse side...

Below is a picture of the area where the computer sits in my house, and you can see the wicker basket it sits on. Before that was a black Ikea table. It worked without any problems, it was the first piece of furniture we found when we got here. You see we were very very broke. After the first day, we had 2 pots. No pan. Four forks, four knives, four spoons, four glasses, one cooking knife and a wooden spoon. We had three (one double) inflatable mattresses, and the sleeping bags we brought with us. The living room furniture was these same sleeping bags in sail bags. Kinda like bean bags, but cushier, and we had to take them apart every night to go to bed. There were also only two, and four of us.

They don't do yard sales here, instead if you don't want something anymore, you just put it out by the trash bins and anyone can take it. No stigma attached. So we spent the first few months wandering around every evening looking for furniture. We got this table as the first piece ever. The computer sat on it and the phone once we got it etc etc etc...the only problem was that there was a weird sort of eddy effect and it became the place where dust bunnies and tumbleweeds of hair went to die.... it was impossible to sweep out because of all the electric cables. Plus the cables were darned ugly, and I wouldn't put it past Chuckbacca to chew on them, electrocute himself and burn down the apartment. Well, today, in the garbage outside my house was this box/basket/chest. PERFECT!!!!

It fits in the space, all the cables and power bars and crap go inside and only the wires come out. If we are going long enough we can unplug everything and put it in the box so that Dogalicious doesn't come a cropper.... and no more dust bunnies or cables!!!!

Yeehaw! I am a happy girl.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My Godmother and others

My Godmother is here visiting, as I have mentioned before, and I am having a marvelous time. There is a story of the beginning of our relationship. I know one side. I should ask for her version. What I know is that when I was a baby my parents did not have me baptised. Now you may ask yourself how I came to have a Godmother in that instance, but my Godmother felt that since I would not have a Godmother, and as far as the story I know goes, she would be unlikely to garner any Godchildren so I was chosen by her. Can't say that I had all that much to do with it at the time, but one of the lovely things about having her here is that it is the longest time that we have gotten to spend together since I was a child. She lived in Germany for as long as I can remember, and she now lives in Latvia so we have only seen each other on brief visits; but she has always turned up in my life periodically and my parents are still friends of hers, thankfully. I am pleased to feel that she is a friend of mine too.

She knows mountainous volumes about literature and art and music, and I am deeply enjoying talking with her about it all, my knowledge is much less extensive as well as more restricted to the English speaking world, and especially North American literature. She, along with Beth at Books Etc have gotten me started on my second Atwood novel, the first was a disaster and I swore I would never pick up another...but...

We both drink at least a litre of tea in the morning.

Neither of us can remove a stain from clothing for love or money.

I love her taste in clothes, she always manages to look both cool and comfortable and herself.

She has taught English for many many years, and I am teaching English as well, and we both share a fascination with words and language.

One of the things I am enjoying immensely is her astute outlook on many issues. I am also trying not to talk her ear off. I fell into this trap when I was travelling alone. I would find someone I could speak to, and who interested me, and who seemed at least faintly interested, and I hadn't talked to a soul in a meaningful way in SOOOOO long... I just about talk their minds out the other side of their heads I think. I am finding myself consciously holding back sometimes now. It is so nice to have another adult to talk to. No slagging my husband here, he is the best, but there is no way on God's green earth that any one person can fulfill every single need of another, and it is too much to ask.

I have other informal God mothers, though I am not sure that they are old enough to count...maybe mentor-friends...? I feel very lucky to have these other women in my life, and I miss them badly. I worked with one for years. She is a deeply philosophical thinking human being. There is not a move she makes that is not a direct reflection of her values and beliefs; and she is the one who let me in on the Baha'i faith. She is a good person, a great person, and very dear to me.

I have a friend I met sailing years and years ago who can face, as far as I have seen, almost any adversity with a sense of humour and inborn wisdom that I find hard to match. I aspire to it. Her kids are also about five years older than mine, so when something weird starts up, or I lose faith in myself and my knowledge and decisions, she is a sounding board that is both funny, wise and experienced.

I have another friend, also a Baha'i, who lives an intensely generous life. She is phenomenally talented as a writer, actor, dancer, teacher, choreographer....and she gives and gives and gives, of herself, her creativity, her intellect, her will, her determination to make everything around her better for her having been there, and she succeeds. I love her directness, and brilliance, and her perspective and honesty and her deep down integrity to what she believes in and what she does.

I am lucky to have any number of other fantastic friends, and soul mates, and kindred spirits who all fill me with joy and delight. I am just thinking at this moment of my nominated mentors, my unspoken teachers. Some of the wise women I am lucky to call friends, who are further along the path, be that intellectual, spiritual, with wisdom or humour and perspective, because they are so closely linked..., and who have been formidably strong and delightful and brilliant enough to let me ride in their slip-stream for some time.

These are women who have managed, either directly or indirectly to influence who I am, and how I see the world, and what I know and think and reason for the better.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


My Godmother and I went into Barcelona today, just the two of us. We had a fascinating time...we went to the Picasso museum, which I had had an opportunity to go to before, and it was again marvelous. They order it chronologically, and it is fascinating to watch his development as a painter...there is one room, relatively early on in the show, where there are a series of paintings that he executed shortly after his first arrival in Paris as a young man. You look at them and think, "Gee, that's a Cezanne, but it's not...and that's a Lautrec, but it's not....and Matisse, and and." Even at that time though he had the most courageous and bold willingness to handle colour. Not in all of his work, but now and then. There is one piece, he has piled on the most monstrously intimidating near electric blue. Opaque and thick and dominant, and he handles it. He manages to let the colour live and shine and glow but not take over; so that you have to concentrate to see that it is there, yet the painting beckons from across the room. No photos allowed, so you'll have to imagine that one.

They do have a reasonable website so you can see what you can find over there if you like.

One of the last pieces in the show were spread over two rooms. One is filled with seven or eight paintings that are so joyful, and bright and colourful, they are reminiscent of Matisse, but maintain Picasso's bold, wild aggressive brushwork and return to his earlier enjoyment of painting a view out of a window. They are paintings of a new pigeon or dovecote that he put up in his house.

The other amazing piece at the end of the show was a room in which he made 44 different versions of this painting:

Now this is P I C A S S O, so they don't much resemble the work here, but what fascinates me is why a man of such incredible talent got obsessed by this one painting that in one month he did 44 versions of it, took possession of it, created from his own imagination from it? Why? Strangely enough he didn't sign any of them, and this was a man who signed a napkin with a doodle on it, well aware of it's value.

This is a water spout for the courtyard of one of these old medieval buildings that make up the's a piggy!!!

And while walking around in the Barri Gothic, in old Barcelona, look at the graffiti I saw:

Free the Tofu!! Rise up! This may have some other meaning I cannot fathom, but I got a chuckle out of it anyway.

Yesterday we got about 5 kilos of artichokes for 2 Euros...look what we had for dinner, indeed we had almost nothing else:

It has been fantastic going to the museum with my Godmother, while I have a decent basic grounding in art history, her knowledge is enormously deeper and broader and it was fascinating what she could tell me about the background of some of the works and the people...

Election day today, tense and happy people in the placa, we'll have to wait and see...I couldn't vote in the end.

Oh, and those doors in the mountains? Mundane and mysterious. They were designed, and may still be used, as reservoirs for water for the Masia's, large ancient fortified farmhouses. They were also used to hide and store arms and ammunition.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

This and that

I looked at that picture that I took from up in the mountains behind us. When I am walking there it reminds me strongly of Southern Ontario wilderness...well, I am not sure cottage country is wilderness, but it's a whole heck of a lot wilder than the hills behind THIS town...

The photo though, it looks all wrong, and I was thinking about why this morning when I was walking Chuck. I realised that it is so difficult to convey the piney smell of the woods, the clean air and the scruffling scuff of the pine needles underfoot. The paths through the trees, and the limited views.

It is weird up there, sometimes it seems like pine woods, then I round a corner and it seems like the Four Corners...another beautiful place. Then another turn and it seems like Georgian Bay with the lichen on the rocks....

It is all so evocative...the camera cannot even begin to resemble it. I continue to be surprised by how arid it all looks on film, and how arid it is...

It is raining hard now...bucketing down. How can clouds hold SO MUCH water? I understand it intellectually at some kind of lay-person's level, but I don't understand. There is a good chance that the scientists don't either if you question them a bit... It is pouring, rivers are running of the balcony can there be so much water in a cloud?

We went a wandering today, and saw these, which fascinated me....

He's small and so worried, clinging to his bag with the dragon breathing down his neck, literally. Are these Catalans clinging to their money bags as the big Castillian dragon in Madrid taxes off their money? A small child with toys, I don't think that, the face is wrong...those eye-brows, you see them on people here all over the place. People here still say to me that the problem is that all the money goes to Madrid. Could there be echos of this lament about Paris, Toronto, New York, London, Berlin......they take the money and pay scant heed to our needs?

Asterix and Obelix go Catalan...they've got the traditional hats on, look like toques to me, and they are wearing espardanyas, the espadrills here, with the lace up tops, identical to the ones we bought for the girls today! And Obelix has mastered the pourro, what a skilled guy, he'd probably like the wild boar in the hills around here too.

Do you like that hat? On close inspection it doesn't actually say what it looks like it says, but gee willakers, can you imagine buying that? Or getting it as a gift? And from who? Your Dad? Your Boyfriend?

The think that I find scary is that it isn't a homemade artifact of some sicko...these are designed, manufactured and distributed. Presumably almost exclusively to non-English speaking countries.

Kinda makes me nauseous.

We had a really nice day in fact, although our bus home either didn't come, came early, the schedule was changed, I don't know, but we sat around in the sun for more than an hour and a half waiting for the bus before we bailed and took an alternate, but very expensive transportation....Eldest and I agreed that it was a good day, but it all went on about two hours more than it was fun.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Eldest is better today...thankfully....and is off on her field trip into the mountains. Where there are no toilets. Lets hope she is really better or today will read more like one of the inner circles of hell for her. Sometimes being a mom is less thrilling....worrying is not fun.

I have been reading this site now and then lately, and it is basically profs venting, with charming eloquence about some of the less charming names anywhere. While I cannot say I have ever been so annoyed, I have also never taught like this....I do have one student though....having slacked off all term, now that the exam is looming, he is asking me to come in at all sorts of extra times to make up for the classes he missed. Let me tell you, I don't give two hot shits if he passes or fails this exam. At some of the rare occasions when he turns up for class, he frequently doesn't have the books. If you cannot even bother with that, why would I want to give up my time with my family to help you.

Sorry bud, you get out, what you put in....

I'll be there at the scheduled time. I'll be cheerful, helpful, pleasant and professional, but I am not turning up at other times, and you've stiffed me more often than I care to count.

That said, another student and I got talking about the local politics...she is politically active and desperately needs practice speaking English, so I asked her about the various local parties. There are many. Boy did I find out a lot.

In fact, I find out a lot from everyone. I have never lived in a small town before, and I don't know if it is because of that, but oh my goodness gracious....the gossip! Like nothing I have ever experienced anywhere, largely because, it seems to me, that in a city you just don't have enough people and history in common. Here? Well, too much information. Way too much. Way way way too much. I have GOT to watch what I say. Always. I have a big mouth, and I tend to shoot it off, hmmm. Not such a good idea.

Though, I am approaching a controlled blast around the sluggish sub-humans working on that job site I talked about. The harassment level is getting worse, now even when I run into them in the street. Even though I don't understand it, I an getting a wee bit fed up. I had resolved that if they spoke to me again today I was going to go into the site office and, shall we say, let off some steam. Nicely. Then I was going to go to the mayor's office and request that they speak to the company as well. However, when I went past today, I followed one of the engineers up the hill, a woman. I was pretty sure they were going to keep their mouths shut this time anyway.



Eldest did fine today, no bathrooms as expected (all day, can you imagine?) but she was fine. Phew.

I just reread this and it sounds like a lot of complaining, life is really better than all that though.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bad nurse. Bad bad nurse.

Eldest daughter is kind of sickish...I am a crappy nurse when they are like that, impatient and not as sympathetic as I should be. When they are really ill I'm not so awful, when they're only sort of sick... not so good. They should just get better darn it.

She just doesn't seem very sick, and I get frustrated at what she is missing. Not very rational.

I think it is a combination of concern and dismay. Why it makes me irritable though?

Eldest is unfortunately missing a field trip today, and if she doesn't get better, another one tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rain, embarrassment and helpfulness

Yesterday evening I took my wounded arm, and unseen knee, into the local farmacia...My Catalan does not stretch to medical terms very well, so I waved my wound around and made band aid...well gauze pad and tape know what the lovely lady behind the counter did?

My oh my, I just can't picture this in Shoppers or CVS...."Pobra" she said, which is sort of like, you poor dear. Then she went, put on gloves, got a bunch of gauze and some sterile water, proceeded to wash out my cut, and apply an enormous gauze bandage! She gave me a spare, and wouldn't even accept payment for the bandages!

Only when I asked for a couple more, so that if I did it again I would have some on hand and not have to wait three hours till the farmacia opened, did she bill me...4 euros for a 4.80 Euro purchase.

How nice is THAT!

This is a fascinating aside as well....The other day it rained here. Sounds pretty boring I know. It was a fairly spectacularly black cloud, lots of wind and rain rain rain...turns out after the fact though that it didn't rain water, it rained mud. Everything is FILTHY. I had to wash the clothes line before I hung the clothes out. Look at this black car:

I found out today that this happens some times...that I had noticed, but that the dirt comes from the Sahara! Well, now that's a little more special...this happens to ships out in the Atlantic as well. You would think that it would be pretty tidy out there, but every now and then, gritty masses of grungy rain arrive, coating everything with sand and dirt. I almost feel like saving some!

Know what else is nice? My sister has been making wistful beach noises as we are thinking about our next get together...and I had a smack-the-forehead moment on the beach yesterday, I e-mailed her to re-issue an open invitation to come and visit us...even if only for an afternoon on the beach, extravagant I know, but such are the joys of living not toooooo far apart...well, darling sister LEAPT at the opportunity, and she and her two boys are coming down for the weekend on June 7 - 10!

I am seriously OVER EXCITED!


The other thing that I was wondering about is this. Several of you, thank you very much, e-mailed to relate some of your own dismal and embarrassing stories of falling on your face and scraping yourselves up like a three year old. I do appreciate it enormously, all of you. Here's the funny thing though. Every single one of us was embarrassed. Why? I mean, yeah it's kinda klutzy, but lets face facts, everyone does it sometimes. So why were we all, uniformly, embarrassed?

Is it a left-over from all those rotten high school types who would ridicule you ferociously and near eternally? Or is it like hiccups that go on too long, or in the wrong venue, and we are faced by such an obvious realisation of our animal selves that it is culturally uncomfortable. I wonder if it is universally embarrassing to wipe out like that, or just western culture, that is so divorced from out beings as breathing, bleeding, hiccuping animals? That may take a while to discover. But if any of you have experience outside of the western mindset, and would like to speak to this question, I would be delighted to know more.

Adults, jellyfish, and OUCH.

Went to the beach again, hunting sea glass...look at this jelly fish...

I asked the kids what defines an adult. The little one said, "They're bossy."

The elder: someone who has gone through puberty, has a job and can live by themselves. They are also able to make a decision and carry them out without anyone stopping them, and being able to make decisions about other people. They can cook, and use all the kitchen utensils, they pay taxes, and have lots of responsibilities...

I think Boo's comment is telling. You start to feel like an adult when your parents become dependent or die. A friend's mother said to me, "It doesn't matter how old you are, when your parents die, you feel like an orphan." I hadn't thought of that aspect of your parent's death. Making you feel finally like an adult. My folks are currently touring China, so there is not much risk of me experiencing this for a while...thankfully. I had supposed the sorrow, and dismay, and and and, but not the sense that you are now an adult, not someone's child.

Something to continue to ponder.

It seems to me, however, that it should not include skinned knees. Seems only fair.


Haven't achieved that either, I skinned my knee, tore a hole in the husband's jeans, d*mn it, skinned my entire forearm, and a few scrapes on hips and such. Of course, this being a small town, someone I knew drove by while I was getting up off the ground. Couldn't do a thing like that in privacy. No way. I had the camera out, which is part of why I got wounded, I was mostly focused, as I fell, on not toasting the freaking expensive's fine. I'll heal. The man's jeans? Well let's say I look very modern and fashionable. And my cuts sting.

Am I the only one who manages to hurt themselves in such geeky ways? I got six stitches in my thumb last year, I cut myself washing the dishes. Nothing exciting. Washing a mug.


I also want to point out that it is bloody difficult to take a picture of your own elbow, or knee as this rather fuzzy picture will attest.

Monday, May 21, 2007

All grown up now????

The Cutty Sark caught on fire today in London, which distresses me, they don't know why..this is a tall ship that sailed from London to Japan via Cape Horn in three and a half months...still an amazing time...very very fast. She was being restored so a lot of her decking and spars were stored elsewhere, which is a very good thing.

I have to say for the local construction guys, they are toning down now that it is getting hotter and hotter, maybe their willies are over-heated...there is one fellow who sings flamenco while he works, to my uneducated ear, he sings it well. It is certainly different from what I am used to.

Trish had a piece up bemoaning her temporarily perceived lack of qualification to be an adult. It made me think. When I was a kid, I thought that being an adult meant that you had gotten to the stage where you were sufficiently solvent/organised/disciplined that you always had cash in your wallet. Haven't gotten there yet.

Being grown-up sometimes looks from a child's eyes as simply a matter of size and age. Once you get there, and I have turned 40 in the last few months so I must qualify as an adult by some definitions, you discover that in a lot of ways it feels like a bluff. Really, sometimes I feel no more qualified than I was at 16, although I know that neurologically I am a different person, and financially, and experientially.

What makes someone a grown up? I don't think that it has to do with having the answers, or the bank balance, or simply the age. There are plenty of aged people that haven't got the sense of a toddler...

I think that it is developing the ability to deal with adversity with grace...something I still need work on. It implies a certain level of foresight, which is painful absent in the vast majority of teenagers, and unfortunately in some adults, and many cultures...I hesitate to say, but believe, that our western culture is not grown-up...we lack the foresight necessary to make reasoned and reasonable decisions.

That I think is the other hallmark of adulthood...the ability to make a reasoned decisions. This does not mean that it is necessarily the right decision, but it is a decision arrived at by more than simply instinctive, or animal responses....I see Chuck, the vasectomied, panting heatedly after every female dog, and I am reminded of teenagers, which he is....He has no cultural gilding, nor any ability to reason out his decision.

I also think that adulthood requires a certain level of experience. Not a death of naivete, or innocence...I think there is room for that in a grown-up, and there is room for idealism...I do not believe that one must be cynical to count as an adult, but a healthy sense of caution seems like part of the definition...this, of course ties into the decision making skills. An easing of gullibility as a mark of maturity.

So am I an adult? Though I screw up sometimes, as most of us do. Though I fly by the seat of my pants, as most of us do? Though I have adopted grown-up mentors? Though my wallet is often empty, and it is sometimes, as they say in the Bahamas, "low tide man" as in, there ain't no money right now, sweety.

So who is qualified to be an adult?

I think it comes down to...grace, foresight, reasoned decision making, and an ability to be objective about yourself and your impulses.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

walk and walk and walk....TUNNELS!!!

Sweaty, hot and tired...we went for a four hour walk in the mountains, and it is warming up here. *phew*

We walked up a river bed, dried up, on our way out of is a fascinating spot with walls on either side, a grand house, and bridges...

At the top of the walled section there was this tunnel...I posted about the tunnels in the hills here before, and I had wanted to get up and use the flash on this looks like it goes a bit. It looks most mysterious to's the door......

Doesn't that look fascinating? It's in, well, not the middle of nowhere, but it isn't, shall we say, central...

Here's what you see when you open the door........

What is that icky looking black stuff on the ground....looks ominous.

And with the flash.......................

OK, that goo still looks looks like there is some kind of side passage, and I don't know what all at the end....

Here's another tunnel elsewhere in the hills...less just has a gate, and right beside the road, albeit a rather remote road, and strangely below road level, you would think it would fill up....

We went off to political meetings after cooling off at home. Chuck was fairly hilarious when we were trying to leave. When we go out, Chuck, the chewer, dwells in the front hall. This time however he was a little worried that we might be taking him out for another walk....we had to drag him into the hall, then when he realised he was staying he trotted contentedly in and lay down on his bed....

We went first to the socialists meeting, complete with a children's bouncy castle and boutifarra barbeque, but we were too late, I had misread the timetable and it started at 10, no boutifarra for us...a kind of sausage. A little disappointing. Fortunately another political meeting was going on around the corner, this one a local crowd...self-proclaimed center-right....they had vermouths...which is that Sunday morning tradition of going out for vermouth and tapas...olives, clams, sliced sausages, chips, etc etc etc....yummy, no one wanted to talk politics at all though....

Finally we got someone to chat with us, they think I probably can vote in fact, so on Tuesday I will get over to the ajuntament and ask about getting both the man and I put on the censa electoral, or something...we did get some bumph and some political discussions. The man also went down to hear the incumbent speak.

It is really a small town, we know two people who were working for the socialists, the lady from the pet store, and one of my students. Two from the central-right, our landlord and her husband. The incumbent is the brother of one of my students, and another mayoral candidate, who was running the sound system for the incumbent, is the husband of my old Catalan teacher....there's more. We've only been here eight months, and I barely speak the language, and still!

The girls and I went off afterwards, we had all planned on going for a coffee and a sweety at a bakery/cafe, but they were closing, so instead we went to the local bar, the girls had ice cream, and I had cafe amb llet (with milk) and a flam...we would call it creme caramel...mmmm.

Youngest has gone to a friend's house, the man is asleep, eldest is kinda cranky, and I wouldn't mind a nap either, though I don't see it happening.

Lazy Sunday afternoons.....

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Let's go to the beach, oh baby....

Took the dog for a walk this morning, and ended up being invited in for coffee at a friend's house. I did NOT cruise by her place, she saw me from MILES off, and waved me down, which was lovely. Her daughters had crustless white bread slathered in butter and liberally sprinkled with chocolate for breakfast, along with a glass of milk. I got a cup of very strong coffee *bzzzzzz* and a smallish croissant oozing stuffed full of nutella kinda creamy goo



Quite the breakfast.

The girls and I went to the beach, the man went into BCN looking for shoes, but came home with books. So like him.

Girls and I stopped and had ice cream...I got tourrons and truffles, one child got Ferraro Roche and truffle, the other truffle and chocolate. mmmmmmmmmmmm

The kids swam, were horrified by all the topless women, and horny guys making out with their girlfriends...shrieked, jumped in the waves and generally had a good time, although they had a bad bout of homesickness for the boat and the Bahamas when a sailboat cruised by off the beach. I was horrified by a women publicly depiliating her boyfriend's back with a pair of tweezers, not 20 feet from us..she then moved onto her eye-brows...eeeewwwwwwww. Can't you do that at home?

I also cruised by a clothing store that had been recommended to me and got a gorgeous, with narrow diagonal stripes and an embroidered neckline.
happy happy happy....

The mayoral race continues...they seem to conduct it with numerous festas..what a surprise...I've been given a t-shirt. There is a chocolatada in the placa tonight, there is music, and there was last night as well, there is a boutiffarada in a park tonight...a type of sausage....and more tomorrow. They'll haul out the gegants and bouncy castles and and and....

Can I be bought? We'll never know, I can't vote.

Friday, May 18, 2007

THEY'RE BACK!!!!! Happy feet!!

See that! They're back. Bless the marvelous shoemaker...I have happy feet again, only 11 Euros too! I am ridiculously excited...Let's hope that the repair holds.

Here you can see that he has placed another layer of leather on the inside and sewn them together. You can see 'baddog' in the background there...the perpetrator of the deed. Lets hope he doesn't repeat it.

It was a long and hot walk over to pick them up in the next town, it is summer here, and I had too much on. *sweat* Unfortunately the man's shoes that I had taken in weren't finished, so I have to go back again next week, but smart shoemaker, he fixed mine in time anyway. I had told him that they were my favorite shoes and I was quite upset about it.

The cacti are beginning to bloom over here as well, and I find them compelling and beautiful. There have been there green carbuncular bumps on the cacti, and then suddenly from such hard waxy prickly surfaces, look what appears!

I just cannot get enough of them. I took many more photos but managed to restrict myself to only the three.

Kate asked us what our plans are in the comment section of the last post, and I answered her there briefly. We are planning on staying here for at least two more years, at which point we will have to make a decision about where we want to be for the next decade or so. We feel that it would be easier on the kids, as they go through being teenagers and launching themselves into the world, if we stay in one place. With the difference in age, that looks like about ten years. This does not exempt the possibility of a year long sabbatical kind of thing, but we would probably decide where we would be for a while.

It is a big decision, as the girls would most likely remain where we decide to go, be it Spain or Canada, or elsewhere, though that is less likely. We would be deciding based on schools, universities, friends, family, political stability, opportunity for the much. The implications are huge too...if we stay, we would probably end up with purely Catalan grandchildren, and Canada would seem strange and odd to them. This is not exactly a new discovery, every immigrant family anywhere faces is just odd to make a decision with such far-reaching implications and repercussions. Even marriage has less...

That is down the road though, and I am not worrying about it now. At this point, all four of us are working on language skills, building community and friendships, learning about Spain, and the schools and the culture, so that when the time comes we can make as informed a decision as possible, and we have the skills and background in place so that Spain is a realistic option.

At this point, we don't even talk about it, but strangely as I was walking up the hill, in my Spanish repaired Berks, carrying my Catalan grocery bag, walking my Spanish dog, it occurred to me that it would be awfully sad to go. Already. That is just personal though.

The man and I have been looking at ads for boats. It is torturous looking at all the sailboats and the sea and not being able to get out there. It isn't something we are seriously considering right now unless we came across the deal of the century, which does happen, but if we were to stay here, we would probably get a boat, and maybe cruise for a year here and six month there...we'd have to see.

My sister said once that she loves doing a five year plan, because then she knows exactly where she won't be in five years time.

*nodding head*


Youngest came out of school and cried because she said that the teachers were complaining because she isn't learning Catalan fast enough. I asked her who, and regular reader's can guess that THAT teacher's name came up. That was it. This particular camel's back snapped. I talked to the principal, who is also eldest's teacher, and made it clear that it would be best if youngest had a different teacher next year. She assured me that she agreed with that, and was already planning accordingly.


Youngest went off with her sister to the friend's house who has them over on Friday evenings, and is I am certain happier, and when I tell her that she will have a new teacher next year, I am certain that she will be RELIEVED. So am I.

....a few moments later....

Where the hell is my comment button? Blogger is driving me MAD! I swear, I read a book while I wait for pages to download...and now no comment button. Everything else loads up just fine thankyouverymuch, but my own pages????and god forbid I may want to make an entry, literally over five minutes to get the page loaded.... And the help section? WTF? No help AT ALL.

I want my comment button!

Shit. Wordpress is looking good to me right now.

......later still...........

seems big blogger brother is reading my posts, and doesn't want me going over to the competition. The comment button's back too!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hurry hurry hurry

I keep messing my computer up. You see I figure that anything that costs that much ought to be able to do more than one thing at a time...I can, I have to all the time, so why the heck can't it be opening blogger and uploading photos at the same time. I mean really, why does it have to get it's chips in such a knot? Maybe they should have more women designing them. We can do more than one thing at a time for hours on end.

I had a morning that surged and swept around me, precipitated by a pair of e-mails that HAD to be answered, amputating half an hour from the morning routine. I don't know about you, but I can't do that to my morning routine without hefty payback. But, despite this, it left me with a feeling of increasing integration in this community. Still mightily fringe-dwelling in this small town, but sliding in sideways. I ran, literally, to the bakers to get bread for the girl's ezmorse, morning snack, although the word actually means breakfast. My Catalan was good enough that I could give a man directions to the bank, while running down hill and he understood them. Poor guy, he had to run to keep up with me, and the last I saw of him he was still running as he rounded the corner, as if he had been swept up and couldn't stop. I wonder how long he ran before he wondered why he was still running.

When I got into the bakers, there were a pair of ladies having a lovely and leisurely chat with the lady behind the counter, which peaked both my heart rate and my blood pressure, but my Catalan was also up to gracefully bumping the line! Whew.

We tore out the door on the way to the community center to drop eldest off at her gym class, and on the way saw one youngest's friends heading for school with her Mom and sister, again, the Catalan was up to pawning littlest off and sending her on her way. Although I didn't remember to use the ultra-polite favour asking sentence structure that I recently learned. Oh well.

Eldest and I jogged on, blessedly on one of the few relatively level bits, when I realised that I still had eldest's knapsack that had to be dropped off at the school, and I didn't have time before work. Fortunately another friend from the school was headed that way and took the bag! I dropped eldest off, whipped down to work used the keys to the place I had been lent and in I went. Then the student was half an hour late, but what the heck.

Two folks I know well enough to ask a favour, and keys to a workplace. Starting to belong.

I went into BCN on a lightning fast tour looking for some foodstuffs, and cloth for napkins. We have been napkinless here for a long long time, and every time I look at them they are ugly, skimpy polyester and a mere 4 Euros each, that's about US$4. *gasp*

So instead I bought fabric. Found some fun stuff too....One of them is like a magic match for my favorite mug at the top of the page. Now unfortunately I will probably break the mug, but what the heck.

The fabric is nice and think, and we are going to make them big...fancy restaurant big. I love the napkins you get in those kinds of places....

They had AMAZING fabrics there, I am going to have to get a pattern for a vest and make me some clothes. How hard can it be?