Thursday, December 20, 2007

Surfacing and disappearing

Woah, now this has been quite something. I am not really feeling sick now, just cold and tired. Very very tired. I am logging 14 hours a night without trying too hard, alongside a good two naps a day. I am outsiesta-ing the Spanish. I am much better today, but my stamina is not what it should be. Groan.

Thank god the Xmas shopping is done. I can wrap later.

On to more exciting news, we are leaving tomorrow for two weeks in Seville with my family, including GM who comments here sometimes. We will be driving down, stopping to visit cousins, eat Paella in Valencia I hope, seeing beautiful sites on the way, we will be going to Granada to see the Alhambra, and we'll go to Cordoba to check it out as well. We will also cook and eat and hang out and and and....there is, however, neither a telephone nor internet at the place we are staying so I am going to be off the air until after Jan 6, or 5th I can't remember.


I may try and add to this later, depends on how tired I get today, and I don't know if I will have a chance to post tomorrow before we go.

If not, Bon Nadal tothom....

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year while we're at it.

I hope it is kind to you.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007



headache, shivery and sweaty, my eyes hurt, my throat hurts....

weak and tired.

They took one look at me at school and sent me home.

I'm going to bed.

I don't know when I am going to be back on the air here...

We'll see.


Hope you're all doing well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

To the moon!

OMG what a day, Catalan class, Xmas shopping, Catalan oral practice, pick up the kids, do groceries,, painting class, then a end of season party in the local bar with the painting class, then more Catalan practice with another neighbour...this girls head is spinning, it's eleven thirty, I have to teach more classes every week now and probably give up the painting class and I am kinda bummed about that.

Time for bed.

Sorry for the poopy post,

OH! In Catalan class today, as an oral exercise we had to decide who would be the most likely candidate for an astronaut....yours truly got the nod!


Oh again, and ever so slightly later....a dear friend whose birthday is today gave me a gift! On the weekend she went over to the boat yard where our beloved Oreneta is stored and took photos of her which made me almost cry with happiness....if you head over the her blog here you can see a couple of pics of our darling boat/home/love on the hard. She looks OK, a little gritty, but fine. Such a relief.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Table manners.

Now there is a boogey man if you ever heard of one.

They are brutally difficult to impart to kids. I wonder what the Queen did to her little bratlets? Then there are the cultural differences. Finally there are the more refined rules.

Once you get past chewing with your mouth closed, or eating with your elbows on the table (we still get armpits on the table from time to time), then there is the arcane and quite arbitrary rules about how to handle the utensils, and this is before you get to which one to use first. *tip* Start at the outside and work your way in. Always. I waitressed banquets for years and it was astonishing the number of people who didn't know that. If you aren't sure and the waitress doesn't look too much like a nasty witch, you can ask him or her too, believe me, they know.

Then there are the finer points.

Like at a dinner party when the person who sits next to you talks intently to someone either across the table or on their other side for the entire meal. R. U. D. E. RUDE!

This happened at the man's dinner the other night. I will grant, it was only for most of the dinner, and my language skills are not all that they could be making me less than an entirely enticing dinner companion, but still. I will also grant that one of the two participants was a Spanish speaker whose Catalan was probably as shaky as mine, so it was hard work for all involved. Manners weren't necessarily meant to be easy though. The woman beside me and the woman directly across from me talked intently and seriously about I know not what for the entire meal in Spanish. Ho hum.

It did mean that I got to talk to the man more, but he was also engaged in the conversation on his other side which was far enough away that I couldn't follow it. I also could hardly talk through the two women to the folks on their far side, so we were left with smiles and nods.

I have a story or three to tell from waitressing too. Some good, some bad. I waitressed one wedding that had 14 courses. We were practically family by the end and they made me sit down and eat dessert with them at the end of the meal.

Then there was another group that came in semi-regularly. They were the under 30 millionaires group. Something like that, and let me tell you, you don't get there based on manners alone. *gee willikers* They need to learn that you get nowhere (except maybe your first million) by making yourself look important by bugging the wait staff, or being obnoxious to them.

A cool group I waitressed was a bunch of businessmen and politicians from one of the G7 summits. I will not go into the various politics of globalisation, that is not the topic of this post, nor any of the other political hot potatoes that go along with it. I am talking table manners here folks. Let me tell you, these men had them. I will also point out that they were all men, or if there was a woman she completely escapes my attention. They were actually a very nice crowd to waitress for; courteous and polite. The only problem we had was that one of the underling brown-nosers wanted us to hand out cigars at the end. These guys wanted to hear the speaker not have us in the way trying to hand them an outdated idea that their doctors had forbidden.

The second most profoundly obnoxious group? Frats. OMG. Those little pimply peach fuzzed first years who thought that we would drop anything (including our pants) to simply know them. I am so sorry, but NOT. Gag puke gag. Rude and self-righteous and disgusting. The millionaires were worse though. And some of their women.

I dropped a ball of ice cream accidentally-on-purpose down the scooped back of one lady's dress. It must have dribbled it's icy sticky fingers everywhere.

You should be extra nice to waitresses at banquets. They don't get tips from individual clients, it's in the bill, so if your really horrid, you never know what will happen.

I was and am too in your face to spit in your food, but beware out there....never tick off the wait staff.


And please, talk to everyone at dinner even if they are freakishly difficult to talk to, like me. Not if they are psychopathic misogynists though, just back slowly away, and get them to tick of the wait staff, really really badly. Heh heh heh.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Parenting 101

Sorry I didn't post last night, it was the man's Christmas dinner at work. It started at 10pm. Yup, you read that correctly, 10pm.

We're kind of getting used to this, but still.....

The food was quite uneven in quality, some was really fairly badly done, and some was fine, and there was one moment of pure epicurean delight that made it all worthwhile.

I had the lamb, I got a leg. It was a serving fit for Obelix. Honestly, I would have needed maternity clothing if I was going to finish it. It was good it was so big though because the man's bacalla, cod, was FAR too salty. Someone screwed up badly on the soaking and rinsing process there. He finished mine.

The one thing I had that was good was a croquette. Now, every single one of these I have ever eaten here has been unutterably d i s g u s t i n g. Picture deep fried wallpaper paste. Blech.

This one however was porc senglar, as in wild boar. There was definitely an Obelix theme to the was crisp and gorgeous on the outside and savory and unbelievably delicious on the inside. No wallpaper paste in sight. Oh my. So so so good.

When we got home, that's when the fun really began. You see we left the dinner early, at 1am. We were far and away the first and everyone else was settling in for the fun, but the kids were home alone, the babysitter was sick as a dog, and at their age in a country where their communication skills are marginal and we don't have family to call, that was late enough for me.

But you see, when we got home we had a little problem. Normally here, they lock the door with the key when they are inside, and you need a key to get out again. I find this a hassle and also potentially dangerous in a fire, so we use the sliding bolt when we are home. One of those locks that you cannot open from outside when it is 1:30am and the kids are both asleep.


We phoned, we buzzed, we pounded on the door, we rang the bell, we hooted and yelled, but our children sleep veeerrrrrrrrrrrry veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy deeply. They have slept through a hurricane on a 27 foot boat. In harbour I will grant, but you had to hang onto your bunk. They have slept through all manner of disgusting weather on the boat, where they are literally getting air time off the mattress, like at the top of a swing.

It was very difficult to get them up. Chuck was doing his level best, barking his head off, but without opposable thumbs he was not of any real use.

Eventually, around 2:30 am one of the guys living below us got up. Poor guy. His flatmates were still out partying. He got into the spirit of the whole thing though, invited us into his back patio, got a broom and hammered on eldest's window while I hollered and Chuck had a nervous breakdown in the kitchen. The children slept on. The rather heavy screen window fell off eldest's window, fortunately not braining our neighbour, nor knocking him off the stool, then another of the guys arrived. He is VERY fit. He chinned himself up onto our back balcony and tried to get in. I thought Chuck was going to just about die now, he was spinning in circles and barking continuously.

The children slept on.

Neighbour 2 then stepped onto the AC unit outside Eldest's window, which she sleeps immediately under, cranked up the blind, a noisy business itself, and hammered on the window. He cannot have been more than a foot from her. She slept peacefully.

Neighbour 1 started making plans for the man and I to sleep in their apartment. This fiasco continued for a while longer, my man pounding on the door so hard he was shaking the building. Finally Youngest woke up. She sleeps in the front of the building. Eldest remained blissfully unaware of the entire show.

We got in. At last. Youngest was VERY grumpy about being woken up in the night.

Got into bed around 3.


Shopped basically all day.

I am vewy vewy sweepy.

It was very funny though too. I felt like one of the three stooges. Or one of the Romans.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Toto, we're not in Canada anymore....

These are things that make me realise that I am not in the culture I grew up in anymore....

One of the garbage men that comes past our place sings flamenco. Loudly. No kidding.

The Marquis that lives in the castle behind our house (now there is something that makes me feel like I'm not in Canada anymore as well, eh? How many Canucks have a castle in their backyard with a real live Marquis in it?) anyway, said Marquis (or one of his minions/serfs) was playing Olivia Newton John singing 'Summer Love' from Grease. That is weird enough in itself, but when is the last time you heard that anywhere in the States or Canada?

The Marquis was serenading me while I was breaking a sweat hanging up my laundry in shirt sleeves on the terrace in, get this, DECEMBER!!!! Woah Toto, something strange is going on here!

Now, as I mentioned yesterday, Theresa from The Rain in Spain very kindly gave/rewarded me with the button you see at the top of the page. Now that makes me happy. I am not sure I entirely qualify, but unless your an Olympic Gold Medalist I suppose you always think there is someone out there brighter, faster stronger, smarter or more worldly that you are.

That said, I have travelled a wee bit, and so it does feel good.

It also makes me wonder what constitutes a woman of the world...or man of the world or child, or I suppose even dog or cat, but lets not go there m'kay?

Can you be worldly without having travelled much? Is it purely a question of stamps in the passport, which is in fact now archaic as well as so few countries bother with visas and passport stamps the way they used to.

I also know some people who are very widely travelled yet remain, shall we say, provincial in their thinking, world view and outlook.

Certainly, I think it is easier to be worldly, or a woman of the world if you have seen a bit of it beyond your own front step, but I am not sure that it is an absolute requirement.

So, what goes into being worldly? I am NOT going to trot out some dictionary definition, like in all those reports that people did in high school...though if you google it, the number one and two sites are faintly alarming...s*nta's n*ughty h*lpers rise again...or....well....whatever.....

For me - and since this is my blog, however worldly, I get to trot out my opinions - it has to do with wisdom, long-sightedness (not literally) and an ability to think beyond the range of your footprint (possibly literally). Hopefully to be able to think about and empathise with people beyond your own doorstep, culture or neck of the wood.

Certainly, some people have managed this by going out and seeing what it is like in other parts of the world, but even within most hometowns there are people living in very different worlds. Heck, my family travels around this little village in a very Anglo little world...we are certainly living differently than our neighbours.

Indeed some writers and painters and artists who have provided profound insights into humanity and the human condition have not moved more than 100 miles from their birthplace.

So, in honour of folks who can look beyond themselves, their accustomed way of thinking, their own culture and beliefs and see that others can be correct, that they have valuable contributions to make and are worth knowing and loving, and who recognise that there is more than one way of doing EVERYTHING, I would like to pass this on

to Bullwinkle for her always humorous look on life, heck she even has a soft spot for Britney....but really, there is a woman who cares.

To Books Beth because she is always empathetic even when she has crap of her own to deal with...and she is funny too. Not sweet though. A little edgier than that, and that is a compliment.

To Nomad who has travelled a lot, but has always been fascinated about the world around her, and that is one of the things I love most about this is getting soppy, and

to Trish who I have only sort of met once in person, but I peed in her backyard really....I hope she can forgive me, and who has been to NY more recently than anyone I know....but who is also a thoughtful person who seems to be working her way through life with an eye to what is beyond herself.

Women of the world.


Seriously, what do you think constitutes a woman of the world...please leave a comment about this, I am curious.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Theresa awarded me a 'woman of the world'button yesterday, for which I am quite grateful. It is a compliment to say the least. However this potential woman of the world is bagged, overworked, has a sinus inspired tooth ache, and has had a rather frustrating day.


I am coping out and posting this very funny e-mail that we were sent by a friend. I hope you like it.

Theresa, I am going to do a proper post responding to you tomorrow I hope when things are a mite calmer.


Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one. Reassurance for those of us who fly routinely in our jobs. After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet, "which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers. By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in wind shield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last................

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget

There you have it. Hope you liked it. I did.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oreneta Aground

Long long ago in a land far far away there was a family. It seemed a pretty normal family, a Mom and Dad and a couple of little girls all living in a house in a fairly large North American city. They all loved books and stories, every one of them. The parents also had a slightly peculiar passion for all things to do with the water and boats, so not unnaturally they got children's books that told fabulous stories about kids and the sea.

One of the absolute favorites of the whole family, even the Mom and Dad, who would come and sit down to hear the stories read aloud was an absolutely fantastic series written by a man named Aurthur Ransome who was himself passionate about books and the sea. He made several interesting voyages and lovedlovedloved both kids and boats, so he wrote a book called Swallows and Amazons which was the first in a series of books all about children and boats.

The stories are about a group of five children from two families who meet up in the Lake Districts in England and are wildly undersupervised. They sail and camp and are pirates and explorers, and they have untold numbers of adventures.

These stories are some of the best ever written. They are extremely British, and some conversation around the rather Victorian (read politically incorrect) phrasing may be necessary, but I cannot recommend them enough to anyone.

Well, this fairly normal family one day decided to do something not quite so normal. They decided to get a sailboat and move aboard her and travel around together seeing what they could see, being together and sailing, swimming, rowing, reading, drawing and painting...among other things.

So they started to look for a boat. This was not so easy because they did not have the biggest budget in the world, but they had a lot of determination. So eventually they found the perfect boat, and they bought it; but it didn't have such a perfect name. Adagio. Which is a fine enough name, but it wasn't perfect. So while this family scrubbed and swept and painted and polished and re-greased, and re-wired and re-reaved and all the other thousand and one things you have to do to get a boat ready for sea, they thought and they thought and they thought. They thought of many many different names.

The two little girls wanted to name the boat Swallow after one of the boats in their favorite books, but the Mom and Dad did not want to go through life in a boat nicknamed 'gulp'. The little girls were insistent. So the parents thought and thought some more. They thought that since the Dad was born in a different land far far away, and spoke a different language with his parents and sisters, they would look and see what the name for a swallow, the twittering kind, not the one that goes gulp, is called.

They looked and looked, and one day they discovered that a swallow is called an oreneta in the Dad's mother tongue, Catalan. Well, now they had the perfect name.

So they christened their boat Oreneta. And so they were called also called by the many friends they made while are all people who live and travel on their boats, so if you ever decide to move onto a boat, you must have the perfect name or else you will forever be hearing something silly like, "Here comes the Mom's Minks!!! Do you think they can stay for dinner?"

Well, after this family had sailed their boat from Canada all the way down the east coast of the United States and across to the Bahamas and back to Florida while having many adventures and making many exciting discoveries along the way, they went back to Canada for a few months to avoid the hurricanes and to make some money. While they were there they got an offer to move to Spain and work. They needed to pursue papers and citizenship to do this though which was a long and painfully boring process, which has no place in this tale, but it also meant that they got to go sailing for another two years which wasn't boring at all.

After their third year aboard all of the papers were in order, they packed up their bags and moved to Catalonia in Spain where they are still, right now, and when the Mom started up a blog to keep in touch with all of their friends and family and to record, journal and think about this new not quite so normal twist in their lives she had to pick a name, and since she still felt rather like an Oreneta rather than anything else, but also an Oreneta that had suddenly found herself squarely on terra firma - as is their boat - it seemed a good name for the blog, because that is about how her life felt.

So she named her blog Oreneta Aground...and thus it has been ever since.

I hope that they all live happily ever after.

This story was brought to you by Oreneta, but prodded by Trish who came up with this fun explain our blog's name, and we are to tag people as well. Now, let me think...I am going to tag Jocelyn at 'Oh Mighty Crisis' and Nomad's art blog 'Poena' and anyone else who want to play.

Hope you have enjoyed it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

7 things meme

Beth tagged me with the seven strange things I have to come up with seven strange things about me that I am willing to share with most everyone; aside from the fact that I have personally purchased a statue of Dubbya having a dump...

1. Eldest and youngest both think I dress strangely (I disagree) they think I dress like folks 40 years ago...all that really means is that I wear pants that don't require the use of neat to go out in pubic, oops, I meant public there. *blush*

2. I just got a feed reader, for those of you that don't know what it is, that would seem strange, if you do know what it is, you'll wonder why I've waited so long.

3. If you were Catalan you would think that I was VERY strange because I want to drink cafe amb llet (espresso with lots of warm milk) AFTER 11am. That is very very very strange here. So strange I have trouble ordering want WHAT????

4. I will eat most anything for breakfast, no sticking to that breakfast food rule...for instance this morning, it was bread with alloli, which is olive oil and raw garlic pounded together, and rice and bean soup from last night. This may relate to number 3 above.

This is tricky...hmmmm...

5. I hate carrying a purse. Hate it. Indeed I hate carrying anything at all...after years of carrying everything including the kitchen sink and a potty with the kidlets, lord leave me free.

6. I really like Pringles potato chips. They do not really resemble food in any way, and I have on occasion been quite the particular kind of girl about health food, but pringles....mmmmmmmm.....they are just so good

7. I dislike the use of soap in the shower. Not that I don't get clean, but what the heck, there you are all lathered up with shampoo, why not just spread some of the goodness around? Started when I was travelling and the soap was invariably slimy and cold and made a mess in my bag, while the shampoo remained neatly in it bottle...then I discovered that shampoo doesn't leave that gross ring around the bath that you then need to scrub off...well there you have it, why wash yourself with something that then forces you to wash the tub, leaving you feeling grubby all over again?

I don't know if that is strange enough for you, but it's what I came up the girls said, I am kind of used to myself...everything seems kind of normal to me.

To tag or not to tag, that is the question....

I think I will leave this too anyone who wants to do it...

Trish has also tagged me, I'll do that one tomorrow...

OK Ok ok, I have to laugh. I just checked my stat counter and a ton of people found my site when searching for santa's n*ughty h*lper...a LOT of folks, looking for a little, shall we say, Christmas cheer? BUT...yesterday? They were greeted by GDubya's crap!!!


Go look for your p*rn're in the WRONG place for that!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Painting and caganers

A pleasant and effective kind of day, we got a bunch of crappy little jobs done, plus I've done some reading in Catalan, a bunch of painting, a twenty page copy edit for a friend...oof...

This is what I have been working it started like this...

then went on like this....though it has infact progressed further at this point, I'll just have to surprise you with the next bit of progress.

You may or may not recall that time eldest and I were at a gallery in BCN and there was a show that included photos of people outside the Berlin wall, around when I visited. I took this photo of eldest's shadow cast over the photo, and that moment is the germ of the idea for the painting...

Now then. The Catalan's have this tradition, that starts out sounding pretty normal to me, they put up nativity scenes, but in the back of all these scenes, there is a man having a crap. The statues leave little to the imagination. He is called the caganer. Why he is there? I have no idea.

This has developed into quite an industry since then. You can now get statues of prominent football player caganers, the Pope caganers, and prominent politician caganers among others. Now American friends came to visit us this fall and when they we mentioned this unique Catalan cultural tradition and the spin off versions, the begged and pleaded that we send them a 'certain prominent American politician' you two, if your looking in today here is a preview, I'll mail it this week...for the rest of you...well, I hope you're not offended.

Yessiree Bob, that's him...

Check out the equipment there, he probably would be flattered.

Here's a final adieu,

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Eldest and I spent most of the day together, she had not one single pair of pants and about two pairs of socks. Something had to be done, despite my deep loathing of all things shopping...the kids have even commented on the fact that I am not so fun to shop with because I get so grumpy.

Ho hum

It went pretty well, she's got three pairs of pants now, and socks...turns out youngest needs socks too. Shoot.

It occured to me as I sat down to write and started to reflect on the day that I never really thought all day, don't get me wrong, cerebral activity was going on, chatting with eldest, dealing with traffic, finding our way through parts of the city we hadn't been too before, deciding on clothing, keeping my cool in the crowds...yet....

It amazes me sometimes how little we may really think in a given day.

As I said, I don't mean the standard day to day thought train that runs along as you work your way from moment to moment and meal to meal, but really thinking about something.

It is something we have been discussing lately as a family. The Spanish school system, in fact the Catalan in particular has been in the papers lately as one of the worst in Europe. (Hip Hip Hooray!!!) Looking at the work the students have to do now and further on, the biggest problem seems to me to be that they simply don't need to think. It is mountains and mountains of rote memorisation. I mean, really, get a load of grade whateveritiswhenyouare14 the kids have to memorise the periodic table of elements.

Now excuse me, but WTF????

Isn't that something that you can, you know, look up?

What about making chemistry and chemical actions come to life? Let them think and work with the material, blow a few things up, burn sonething, create clouds of foul smelling stinky smog. If they are interested in the field they will want to learn the table of elements, but I am sorry, will they even understand what the elements are in any meaningful way if they are just set the task of memorising their order?

It is one of the challenges I am finding here teaching English, so many of the kids cannot be bothered to THINK.

As a culture we don't encourage this scary process. We are permanently anaesthetised by our MP3 players, our Tvs, cell phones (HI! I'm on the bus!) and streams of constant meaningless imput that prevents any real cerebral activity.

It is also a challenge I have faced teaching adults in Canada, they want to get through the course, regurgitate the necessary facts sufficiently well to get through and be gone, paper in hand. Our goal on the other hand is to give them enough info to begin to interpret and think, and get them trained in techniques for analysis, record keeping and in THINKING.

They hate it.

It is so hard and alien for them.

And there are days when I come to blog and I am distressed to discover that while I have been quite busy all day, I have not really had a chance to stop and think.

Until I sit down to write.

This may indeed be, for me, a lot of why I like to blog, why I continue to blog. It forces me to stop and reflect and think, if only for a little while.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The man

The man and I had a day out today, how nice was THAT!

The kids had fun day at school, eldest went skating, youngest to some sort of indoor playground, then to a friend's house for lunch, a real friend who volunteered to have them so the man and I could go out. After that they went to the local sport center for a dance, well youngest did, eldest felt ill and spent the afternoon on our friend's couch watching Spanish soaps, which is enough to make anyone feel unwell.

The man and I went into BCN which was WONDERFUL. I got some Christmas shopping done, had a coffee in a cafe while I waited for him. You see, we were kind of going at different paces this morning. I was all bustling along, list in hand, intent on completing as much as possible and honestly enjoying the freedom of moving at an efficient adult pace after YEARS of kid pace. The man however did not want to break a sweat (something akin to a death sentence and to be avoided at all costs) and so was sort of, you know, piddling along. We, as we often do, parted company and met up again a couple of times, giving me the chance to have a cafe amb llet while I waited. Mostly we went along together though...

Oh it was so nice....

When we got back to our town we went for lunch! Just the two of us, one of those lovely southern European two hour jobs.

The place we went is highly recommended as the best in town and the most Catalan of all the places. We started with a salad, I had water and the man a .75 liter bottle of wine, then we both had the mongetes, warm beans with straight warm bacon fat dripped over them and salt, and a couple of slices of pure fat bacon on top. We're talking winter peasant food here. It was delicious. I think the man is going to take an extra cholesterol pill today, I may snatch one of them too. The second course for the man was meatballs and sepia (cuttle fish) in a fishy romesco sauce. Very good.

I had peus, or pigs feet, following unintentionally the pig theme of the last post. I was worried I would be hungry at the end though. They were seriously good, cooked in a savory broth with artichokes and red peppers...I mopped up every single drop of juice with the bread.

I had crema Catalan to finish, along with my second cafe amb llet of the day, both decafinated I can happily say for the sake of my entire family. Crema Catalana is a creamy fatty yummy cream and egg mixture similar to creme caramel, but served in a small clay dish with burnt hard crisp sugar on top. My oh my. What a lunch.

You know what else I love about this, we each had a four course lunch, a full bottle of wine - which the man all but finished - a bottle of water and coffee each for 19 Euros!!!!


We then had a two hour walk in the hills with the dog, and the girls came home. The man had a nap (what a surprise) and we are having movie night tonight!

You know what I liked best? Spending the whole day with him...undistracted by anything or anyone else.

What a treat.

I'll have to send some Cava over to my bud.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Like that jacket the neighbours have up? They're too young to have been there. Kind of a weird thing to sell, don't you think? Kind of like all the kids wandering around in Che shirts, and they have NO IDEA who he was. about this?

Passen cinc minutes de dos quarts de tres

Falten cinc minutes pera un quart do cinc

This is how they tell time here...OMG

These read:

With an extra five minutes it is two quarters to three, or 2:35


Missing five minutes for one quarter to five, or 4:10

It is a wonder I ever get anywhere...the best I ever heard on the radio extra five minutes for two quarters to six plus in...5:36.

Youngest is trying to learn time in Catalan and the system is outrageous....though in some ways more logical than our quarter past quarter two as you may realise if you have tried to explain it to a child recently...either way, it's hard.

Poor kids.

And get a load of this....Theresa was right...there is urea, as in PEE in this. That said, it's working. Do I care? NO.

And check this out, the photo isn't the best, but look who we saw in the mountain? That's right a wild boar, isn't he enormous?

Now I have to confess, he is caged in someone's yard, I'm not sure why, but he has apparently been there for about eight years. Weird.

Here's two things I've been working on as well, this is a study for a part of another painting...

And this is a different painting as isn't finished yet obviously.

It is also a little strange, but he looks pretty cheerful...


Today in the my Catalan class we had to do one of those sesame street "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is not quite the same..." Exercises (how many of you sang that as you read it? Hmmm?)...there were want ads for available jobs, which had silly requirements in them that were extraneous or illogical. We went through the exercise, but then I mentioned to the teacher that the ads that requested a photo with the CV would be illegal in NA, rightly so we felt. Certainly the requirement was extraneous and illogical.

She was surprised and asked why...we pointed out the rich possibilities for discrimination that providing a photo offers, and she seemed startled and of the unbearable OLD SPANISH LADIES (OSL's) in the class of course had a lot to say. I ignored her entirely and continued to talk over her. I am so RUDE sometimes and they still don't get it....

Many people felt that asking for photos allowed for greater discrimination, some of them quite strongly, one of them felt it wasn't a big deal, we take photos all the time. Of course, my point being that our penchant for photos does not bear on your opportunities at finding work....then I mentioned that I found it strange that in Spain it is mandatory to carry photo ID with you at all times...technically I am supposed to bring my passport with me everywhere I go. Can you imagine? In BARCELONA???? The chance of keeping it for a year is next to zero...I am sure the consulates would be happy to go into nearly full time production of new passports while simultaneously posting Interpol warnings about stolen ones.

Many of my fellow students were surprised to discover that it is not mandatory to carry ID everywhere in Canada or the US, nor in the my frequently inflammatory style I mentioned that it is reminiscent of fascism....left some folks thoughtful, others laughed.

I do find that very strange though...very big brotherish....

They were surprised to realise that I NEVER hand in a photo here, nor did I in the Catalan class when it was requested. Interestingly, the only other person who didn't, that I know of, was the American in the class.

OH! My SECOND health card came in the mail today, after a record two weeks or so from application. Amazing. Now to apply for the pan-EU card...

This is the year of bureaucracy.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The delta...water and boats

One of the things I loved most about the Ebro was the myriad little waterways and the boats that were used on them. Mostly punts, as in there is a stick you put over the stern (back) and push off the bottom...

I love boats something silly. These were so lovely. I have got to make it down to the beach and take some photos of the traditional boats there as well....after the Catalan class ends. Urgh.

I loved also these rice fields, all muddy and wet and fallow.....

This is probably the last post on the delta for a bit, I am starting to be buried under holiday shopping and planning, I feel rather excited as well as somewhat harassed by it all, but it should be fun.

Seriously now, how far along are you?

Monday, December 3, 2007


It is once again late, I am once again tired, but tonight I will write.

This schedule is killing me, bring on the holidays and the end of the Catalan classes...please!

The Ebro delta is one of the most outstandingly beautiful places I have ever had the good fortune to visit. Honestly. If you get the chance...GO!

We were very lucky on the weekend because the weather was astonishingly wonderful...I dream of going down there by myself for a week, getting out on the delta before the sun comes up. Taking photos and painting, and wandering until after the sun goes down...alternating this with walks in the mountains that surround it...heaven. They grow quite a lot of excellent rice there, and I would love to be able to go down on a semi-monthly basis and see the changes in the land as the rice grows up and finally is harvested....

I came to the conclusion while I was there that one of the things I love about it, as I love about being at see is the long views...the tremendous distance you can see and the sheer size of the sky...

I have paintings I want to do, and photos I want to get blown up.....ho hum....

We were all very tired by the time we got home...and we have all suffered a bit of a fun-over as I think Nomad coins it....that let down after a fantastic time...even Chuck is wiped...he had an exhilarating weekend chasing chickens. You see, there are chickens at the finca we were visiting. Safely ensconced in a cage, and Chuck derived great joy from running over to scare them. He's a smart dog though, he realised that it wasn't so fun once they went into their house, so he would wander away for four or five minutes, till the chickens came out again, then tear over to scare them all over again.

The chickens had a rough weekend.

Not one egg.

They have my sympathy, poor things, walking around with their legs crossed.

They were getting used to him by the end though, some of them didn't even bother to go inside.

Chuck is wiped out. Completely exhausted, and hungry.

It's a dog's life.

More anon....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

That was an amazing weekend....

Hi all, there is so much to say and it is late and I am tired, so if the powers that be will let me, I will leave you with a slide show for now, and add some text later....

This is slightly disorganised, there are photos that are quite similar, and that will be shifted to other albums, but it is a longish (quite) view of our weekend....

Whatcha think?