Saturday, May 31, 2008

Of ships and snails...heck, the rhyme isn't working.

This beautiful catamaran went past just about at dinner time....we can see it from the living room. The sun shining on the sails is just lovely.

One of Youngest's friends gave her this little treasure, we have since let him/her go back, but he/she was very very active!

I did a bunch of painting, not as much as I really wanted to, but I think I finished the yellow doorway, the light is too low, so no photo, but I'll put it up tomorrow maybe. I think it worked well. I am pretty happy with it.

I also did some sketching, because I really need to improve my figure drawing if I am going to go anywhere. I have been in love with Rembrandt's work for L.O.V.E. His paintings are amazing, and his sketches and drawings are also mind-boggling. I don't know if he was a kind man, but his work is so intimate and loving and lovely. Soooo since I have no books here...I did a google search and downloaded what I could find (and added a couple of books to the old wish list) and got to work.

The head took me three tries, but I whipped the hand off on the first go!

I love his angels. They have feet that look sort of under-employed and adorable, like small children as they are being picked up. This may have been his intention of course...Angels being raised up by the father and all.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Some fibre with that?

You know your culture has some dietary issues when you can purchase this really really easily.

Do you know what that is?

That would be fibre added chocolate ice cream.

Weird, huh?

I do have to say though that it was very good. They may be short of fibre, but they do know for chocolate.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A bid for assistance, help from blog-land!

Eldest has a homework assignment, that is actually pretty fun, but we need your help.

She needs to bring in short pithy poems of weather advice, like:

April showers
Bring May flowers


Red sky at night
Sailor's delight

Red sky in the morning
Sailors take warning

We need as many languages, with the translation into English as we can manage, so if you know any, or know a neighbour or brother or brother-in-law who may know some, please please please leave them in the comments.

This actually seems sufficiently fun that I will then post them...if we get enough I'll use them as the poem on the side bar as long as they last....

Come one
Come all
bring out your weather wisdom!

The I hate school club, and a bit more.

OK. I made this sauce last night that was the most unlikely thing you may have imagined, and it was SOOOO good. So here it is, first though, I got the recipe out of Deborah Madison´s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone I think it is called. Then I kinda changed it a bit, well sort of a bunch, so I don´t know if it is her recipe or mine, anywho, here goes.

I put in a cup of yogurt, I used no fat and drained off that sour liquid instead of the full fat, then I added the juice of a juicy lime, if you have a stingy one I would add more. Then I added mustard. It called for fancy Dijon mustard, but I had just passed the last of my Gray Poupon on to someone needier, and so we had to rely on the yellow baseball-park hot-dog gorp mustard. I put in about two to three tablespoons. Then I added sugar, it called for brown sugar, but again my brown sugar had also disappeared, so I used white sugar, about two to three teaspoons, then a small mountain of coriander/cilantro; I am talking pretty much an entire hefty bunch here....stir, maybe let it sit if you can wait...mmmmmm put it on anything, probably it would even be good with corn flakes. Mmmmmm.

Now lets see, what else, I went off to a dermatologist today (I can hear you groaning...oh no, not more medical stories). Sorry but yes. I am pretty pale, and with all the sailing, I have caught me a bit of sun over the years, now I have this little spot on the side of my nose, that looks a bit like a zit, sort of not, but it just doesn't go away, not since before Xmas, and it is the third time it has appeared. So hi ho hi ho it was off to the doc I had to go....they are forwarding me like a bad e-mail to another doc who will remove the thing from my face - now won´t that look pretty. It is right where a nose pierce would go, if they leave a big enough mark, I'll be getting me one.

The bus ride was a drag, I got bus sick which NEVER happens, then on the way home I had to wait for an HOUR for the bus at a busy round-about, so I couldn't really read, because every time an engine that sounded a bit like a bus came along I had to look up, locate it and see if it was my bus. There were lots. It was very irritating. SO, instead I drew this: I have always had trouble with trees, so I was pretty happy.

The bus fun didn't end here though, the driver was very late, so he was making up time, shall we say. I felt sick again. Then he managed to shut an old lady half in and mostly out of the door and start driving off at high speed. This seems like a failure at that bus driving 101 level, no? Dragging old ladies down the street trapped in the door because you didn't check the mirrors seems a bit of a no no. She was fine, he had accelerated hard, so we hadn't actually got very far before the general screaming made him stop. She was rubbing her arm, but was otherwise unharmed. Goodness gracious.

Youngest started a new club at school today, the "I hate school" club.

Her teacher signed up.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More painting, be warned...

Again, if your going to bail, the big bit of news is that we have an appointment for Tuesday with still more doctors for eldest, I thought we would have to wait till Sept, so this is great.

Now. I have, in true multi-tasking-working-mom style managed to squeeze a little painting in today in odd minutes, and you are about to see what I accomplished.

First of all, this one is at the I-think-maybe-it's-finished-but-I'm-not-completely-happy stage, so it's having in the wall while I contemplate it.

The one below is a piece I started a long time ago, and gave up on. The paper is lovely heavily textured handmade paper, and I have glued on all sorts of bits and pieces including modified coasters that make up the Sagrada Familia....I just didn't like it though, so it became an experimental piece...

This is what I did. First I painted a mossy green all over it, roughly. It soaked up SO much paint it was unreal.....I wondered if it would ever dry....then I put all sorts of things on the surface, it is very busy now, but I am viewing it as under painting so I am not concerned.

The gray splotches I put on with a balloon, I kid you not, I partially inflated it, dipped it in the paint and smodged it on....and I painted on streaks of a darker blue-green, as well as dots of yellow to give it some lift....I like the result, but it is going to change a WHOLE lot before it is done. I want to maintain the textural nature of it all though. You can get an idea of the size from the chairs at the edge of the photo...

This nest one continues to not really inspire me, I am doing it for the course, which I am having a lot of trouble viewing, but we are getting along. I was supposed to use stamps and stencils, but I don't have any so I used a bit of this and a bit of that and painted a bit as well. I am going to do some more before I put it up on the site for the class. I am not really thrilled with this, but if I view it all as background....

The painting with the frame in it got some more interest put into the background, though as I look at the photo it needs some spots that are darker, plus I worked on the inside of the frame as well, I like how that went.

I don't know if you remember, but I said I was going to go off and do some little obedient ones, then they didn't turn out little, or obedient (sort of like my kids?) This is what happened. See the pen off to one side? They aren't little and they are a five-in-one job. What was I thinking? I'm actually having fun with these too, I put depth into the background with palette knives, my fingers, a swirly metal bookmark, deep coats of textured paint, and weeds from the terrace dipped in paint as well. Those gave a nice effect. These to are going to change quite a bit before they are done.

I have also (possibly insanely) started a five piece set, that is nothing but plain backgrounds right now, the squares(ish) really are smaller, probably 7 by 7 inches...guestimating wildly here....but I have what I think will be a neat idea for them.

So that's it for today...I am thinking I'm going to go see a gallery soon, just because I of my students recommended that I go and see paintings by Joaquin Mir, which if it were earlier I would give you a link for, but you too can go to Google images and look him up. He was a Catalan painter, and she admires him a lot. I can see the influence in her work as well. I like the vibrant colours...I may go off to a gallery and have a look.

Hope you had a great day,



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kids talking

I was talking with one of my neighbours today, and she mentioned that the kids she teaches music to are displaying a change in their Catalan that is very very recent, no more than five years old.

Now, before I tell that story, I want to tell you another story, a true one...I do not have the book here with me, so forgive me if I get some of the facts wrong. First of all, children have an astonishing facility for language, it is inborn and amazing. Anyone struggling to learn the complexities of a foreign grammar will relate to this as they grind their teeth to the gums when listening to two year olds using the complex grammatical structures that they are attempting to pound into their aging and thickened skulls with adorable lisping perfection.

What is more amazing though is that children's facility for language is not purely imitative. There was a group of children, and I am going to get this country wrong but I believe it was in Nicaragua, who were deaf. Indeed there were quite a few deaf children in this country, most of them living singly as the only hearing impaired person in their village. They had developed some rudimentary signs, but were effectively devoid of language, and certainly devoid of any concept of grammatical or syntactical structures. These cannot be learned after a certain age, as numerous tragic cases have illustrated.

ANYwhooo, the nations government decided that it would be a good idea to provide some kind of education for these kids, so they set up a school, and brought in all, or many of the kids, from very little ones of three or four right on up to teenagers. I am pretty certain it must have been a boarding school. Now, there were no sign langauge speakers or teachers at the school. The oldest kids got together and kind of pooled their signs and came up with some basic words, but these were choppy and limited primarily to nouns and verbs, with some finger spelling and pointing.

The little ones, and this is absolutely amazing, the little ones however got talking.


They got together, without a single adult signer and made a language. Grammar, syntax, rules and systems, declinations, prepositions, the works, all in sign.

The invented the grammar, the syntax and vastly expanded the vocab. The older kids started learning from them, and the adults too. So strong is the human drive and facility for grammar, that we can in fact create it out of a vacuum, well, little kids can.

Mind blowing isn't it. The oldest kids never got good at it, they were past the age where their brains were sufficiently plastic and could not adapt, like any adult learner of a second language, and indeed they would have been somewhat worse off than a foreign language speaker as they do not even have the concept of grammar to misunderstand.

What the local Catalan kids are doing is neat, and along the same lines, though not so mind-bendingly out there.

They have created a new verb. Nothing all that new to it you say, we do that in English all the time. For instance we use the verb 'to click', as in: click on that window....or, he is clicking and clicking but nothing is happening, I think the screen is frozen.

This is done in English ALL THE TIME; anyone who has learned the language can certainly attest to it.

What I find kind of neat here though is that it is ONLY the smaller kids that are doing this trick with this new verb; they have adopted the word click, which is used in Catalan as a verb by everyone, the same as in English, but they have applied it universally to anything that you change with the touch of a single digit. For instance they now click the lights, and they click the elevator buttons.

The adults are confused and surprised when they hear the kids using the verb, which they have accurately conjugated (no easy thing), and then adopt it themselves. Not as universally as the kids, but they are using it too. It will be interesting to see if the original words for turning on a light and pushing a button die out. I hope not, that seems like an impoverishing move.

Kids sure can work a language though, can't they.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bring out your gore.

Ladies and gentlemen, bring on your broken bones and smashed teeth stories...time to bring out the gore...

In a complete break from the usual semi-highbrow art postings that I have been going on and on about, I though I would bring things down a notch.

I want to hear your stories of general mayhem...when you got the 15 stitches in your knee, when you busted your arm...whatever.

I'll start, it seems only fair.

All of my stories are kind of stupid I have to admit. I have never hurt myself when doing anything risky, maybe because I am paying attention then.

Hula mentioned in a comment, or on her blog, heck I can't remember, that she had broken a tooth. Well, so have of the front ones. I snapped off part of one of my front teeth, probably about four days after I got my braces off, though maybe it was a month. I was hit in the face by a boom, that low flying horizontal bit of metal on the bottom of a sail. Better than getting hit in the eye, but still things were crunchy for a while, then I spit into Toronto harbour, then they weren't. Then I went off to see the dentist.

Hmm, lets see, what else, I managed to get six stitches in my thumb, which is something of an accomplishment as they just aren't that big. I slashed it from the center of the pad at the tip of my thumb right straight down the inner face of it to below where it joins your palm. What exciting and dangerous thing was I doing? The dishes (loser loser loser, I can hear you chanting it). I was not even washing a knife. No, a mug. You see, I knock the handles off mugs with such blinding regularity, we have decided to keep using them handleless (is that a word?). Just so you know, file down the sharp edges if you chose to live on the edge like we do, the glaze is glass.

What more, what more...I broke one or more of those near infinite number of small bones in your wrist when trying to catch a falling mast. I stupidly stuck out my hand to try and catch the upper end of a falling mast when it was low enough I could reach it. Work out the physics of the weight and speed of a 30 foot mast that is near the terminus of a rapidly accelerating earthbound arc. This was needless to say, an entirely futile effort. I didn't go to the doc for at least six weeks; just because.

Oh, and I have a lump on my nose, which has never been confirmed as a break or not; when one of those angular metal clamp-on bedside lamps decided it wanted to become an in-bed lamp one dark night. Scared me half to death getting smashed in the face like that in the dark. Hurt like the dickens too.

Well, those are my stupid stories...I imagine I could come up with more, but lets hear yours...we could do this in comments, or as a voluntary meme, just let me know if you have used it as a post 'cause you have a particularily awesome story...OH, I just remember the wipe out I posted about last year..gory photos and all! (I basically just fell over, it was very impressive)

So, come one, come all, bring out your gore!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More painting...if this is boring you, read the first paragraph, then skip the rest....maybe read the second paragraph too.

First things first, Joyce has a whole bunch of beautiful new hand made bags for sale, and all the money goes to Darfur and the Sudan....they are selling very fast, she usually asks for about $25and she will send them anywhere the post office will send them, so if you want one, hop on over there and sign up; but go quickly.

I am sorry to be going on and on and on and on about the painting, but you see it was a rainy day here (a very good thing) and we were inside all day basically, and so I got on with a bunch of painting. I got further along with the large watercolour, the yellow with a doorway, it is improved, but not noticeably enough for a photo, plus I played around with a portrait in watercolour which is fun, but not excellent...I've been reading Van Gogh's letters, I may tackle a self-portrait, that should be a disaster....they are SO hard to do, plus the only mirror in the house is in the bathroom...I can see it now, 'Artist self-portrait...on the pot'

Ho hum

Here's some of what I got done. That one that was blue and orange, then was cream coloured with ghostly people...well here it is now. I am going to do at least one more glaze to make them a little more ghostly, they're kind of leaping out at us right now.....

Plus this really moved ahead, this was the obedient one, that I didn't like much, then made a frame, and now I like it a lot, though it isn't very obedient anymore.....

It has changed quite a bit...when you last saw it, it was mostly a sage green....

This is my most obedient one....a plain blue one, that I have done a glaze over...I am having interesting thoughts about what I can do for the central theme....we'll see if I can pull it off.

If I am boring you senseless with all this, I am sorry, someday I will get paint off my brain, but for now it is a whole lot of fun.

I think I am going to start up a bunch more little obedient ones and see what I can do with that...tiny obedient ones.....

................later..............well, I started some obedient ones, but I am thrilled/embarrassed/horrified to say that they are far from small....I have one that is 2 feet by a foot and a half, and then five that are made of two of those....I laid them horizontally, then...this is just too complicated. I'll take a picture in the morning and show you. I can't finish painting them now, there is nowhere to let them dry.


I am going to HAVE to start painting smaller things, there is simply no room for it all.

Acrylics are FAST. I think that may be a problem, I can grind out so much!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Paint update number 739, and Texas if you're getting bored with the paint.


They are tricky with kids around, not very forgiving of interruptions...What do I do with the rapidly drying mixed colour on the palette when I have to get up? And then there are the longer interruptions, I am too parsimonious to just let it harden and chip it off, yet how do I keep it viable if I walk away for a bit....

Then there is the water issue, I have to think my way around see there is a drought here, though you wouldn't know it with all the rain we're having, the reservoirs are only about at 40% and once it stops raining it won't rain again for months....They actually have ships bringing water into BCN from France and further south in Spain....and I keep having to wash off the palette and brushes...I think I can rest the brushes in a tray of water, but the palette??


The blue and orange was declared a disaster and I painted over it...which looks better, I can still see the ghosts of the clothes that youngest made and we collaged on through the upper layer and it has an interesting texture as well as flickers of the under-painted colours showing through. I am going to do a glaze over it and see if I can bring up the ghostly women a bit more....possibly a light green....we'll see.

The large yellow is done I think, I applied a minuscule touch of blue to one corner, it needed some weight and balance there....I am not sure it will show in the photo at all....

My mother is thinking, "You are just like your grandmother." That's another post.

The blue and red, I keep staring at, I like it a lot, but it lacks focus. We'll have to see. To see a photo, scroll down. It hasn't changed.

The plain semi-obedient one I am taking tangentially (read kinda disobediently), I built up a thick layer of medium for a frame within the painting, like one of those old masters jobbies,

and I have painted on a layer of yellow ochre, when that dries I'll start glazing it down to a darker tone...

I shall have to do something around the frame as well as within it....we'll see.

This final one was simply to play, and I initially produced the most ghastly seascape, like something those grandmothers in trailer parks make...*whew* I wiped that off....

It is turning into the most obedient of the lot, the collage items I stuck on are disturbingly aligned, and the whole thing is weighted a bit far left...I keep tipping over when I look at it...I am sure I can fix that though....

Maybe I will end up being a granny painting kitch in a trailer park, you see, I already have an in. I actually had the privilege of living in a trailer park in rural Texas for a few months one summer, I got the most kick-*ss radio station from Louisiana in the early mornings, made friends with the scorpion under the bath mat and got chiggers. Urg.

The guy in the next trailer had had lung transplant surgery, used to work on the oil rigs, smoked like a chimney, and - I kid you not - painted nudes onto black velvet.

Strange, but true.

Road runners are the most amazing birds.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Riding the wave

These acrylics?


I kind of have a handle on the watercolours, I can largely predict what it's going to look like when I lay hand to brush, I can pretty much judge where I am headed. My technique, of course, is still flawed, but I do feel somewhat in control.

Oils...ditto, though it has been years, I have done enough I could largely pick it up.

Acrylics though? Kinda like jumping off a swing at that moment when your body lifts clear. The swing is starting to fall, but you're still going up....and you give a bit of a kick and let go...and it is such a long way down and you feel, for an hour that moment that your flying, and sometimes you land beautifully, and sometimes you stumble and fall.

whew, I am still not really sure whose driving.

I've got four paintings on the go....the big yellow one, I have looked at for a while, and there is only one small thing I am going to do with it and it's done...a bit of serendipitous blessing that one....a sweet landing so to speak.

The red and blue one...I also like it, but it is not quite there, I haven't seen where it needs to go....

The blue and orange is a disaster, though youngest still says I am being too harsh...I moved faster than I could think about where I wanted to move, if you follow me, and now it and I are lost...wandering idly through the mush....we'll see if I can rescue it.

I did one the way I was told, and I am reworking a previous theme I tried in watercolour and I am not happy with....we'll see how it turns photos....too lazy, and I remain somewhat diffident about that one...we'll see if it charms me in the end.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


The oxymoronic online painting course that Nomad and I are taking started yesterday, I had tremendous problems with the video, but it was enough...she wants us to sand the canvas (I didn't) and prime it (again) with gesso (I didn't) and she wants us to sand that smooth as well (can you see where this is going? I didn't) Not very obedient am I, especially for a Canadian, eh?

Anyway, the course is focussing on backgrounds, so we were supposed to lay down a plain thin smooth layer of colour as the base. Well, mine isn't smooth at all, I kind of like the texture of paint, so rather than spraying it with water to thin it, and mixing the colours with white (I like them bolder so...I didn't) and then spreading it with a foam brush...well...I trowelled it on with a pallete knife...let me tell you, THAT was fun. But it was still a little boring (I know, this was supposed to be an underpainting, but like I said, I am not so good at obedience) so I decided to add some variations to the colour, you can see it here, I have spread the base coat and squirted on the brighter yellow....

Then I spread it around in a pattern I like, and took the picture. As I looked through the viewfinder I really liked the highlight effect I saw from the light behind me, so I snapped the photo and then added some white.

This is what I got:

My only problem is that I really like it and I am not sure I want to do anything else at all. (This may be why she wanted it so plain, hmmm?)

I had decided to do a couple of other canvases at the same time, so I did this one on paper, using a discarded painting by youngest as the base....recycling is a good idea, isn't it?

As you can see I am still applying rather too much texture and variation to the canvas for the class requirements, but I think it is interesting anyway....they are also WAY too big for the class requirements, they were supposed to be 8"by 10" the big one is probably two feet by three feet, and the smaller, a foot and a half by two. Ah well. I like working big.

Then I did this third one, again I failed to make it plain and simple, in fact it is probably the most dramatic of the three. First I laid down the red, but it needed to be controlled a little, red is kind of that way, so I layered on a thick coat of blue and then I started to play...sort of sculpting it around on the canvas, which was WAY fun...and then I added the finishing drawings with the point of the trowel. The only problem is that I don't want to stop. I did all that far too fast. Disappointing.

We are next supposed to do some collage work and stick things onto the canvas when they are dry, meh, I am not too enthusiastic about this, but I will do it with at least one....I am taking the class to play with the paints, so it makes sense to try out a number of options. I think I will paint the main features on though rather than collaging them. Smacks a little of scrap-booking, which isn't awful, but not what I am aiming at. I may do one more if I can find where the kids hid the painting paper, and do this one the way we are supposed to for the course. Or not.

For all of you bored senseless by this, here's one other very colourful thing that has appeared in my life....look what came in the mail!!!

This is a bag that I bought from Joyce who makes them herself, and they are stunning, not only that, the money goes to help the crisis in Darfur...I love the bag if you see this Joyce, and thank you so much...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Photo and bird and...

This is the local poop filled bit of grass in a local parking lot. There's beauty everywhere if I peel my puffy eyes open far enough to peer out and spot it. And remember the camera so I can share it.


were spotted in BCN, there are lots of free-flying free-living hippie parrots in BCN, like in parts of Florida too. I love them, and I love that they hang with the pigeons. Make peace not war man.

I always knew that eldest is unique, and sometimes astonishingly wise. She didn't need to produce three white/grey eye-lashes to prove it to me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I am bagged a bit discouraged about some stuff going on and having another allergic go around so I am itchy, burning and prickly, plus dopey as h*ll from the medicine.

Eldest has tested negative on all the tropical disease tests so far, there are three pending. This is good news, but also frustrating. I was hoping that they would find something, give her a pill an it would finally be over; as it stands we are being sent off to an allergist and (another) gastroenterologist(probably in September).

We can't get off the merry-go-round yet it seems.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Drawing and talking: a lovely day

We went into BCN last night for the 'Nit del Museus'...we went to the Picasso museum, they have a year round family membership for 15 Euros!!! WOW, we'll be getting one of those, then you can just drop in whenever you want! How great is that? Picasso on tap?

We couldn't take photos, though I did take this lovely study in Monastic innovation.

This was in what used to be a monastery, and is now a church tucked just off Plaça Catalunya (I can no longer remember which is the Catalan, English and Spanish spelling of Catalonia (English-HA!) Oh yes, and Spanish has Cataloña, I think.)ANYway, we were doing a brief tour of the normally locked cloister while a wedding was going on - if your nosey you never know what you'll get to see - and this font thing-a-ma-bob that you dip your fingers in and cross yourself as you enter a holy Catholic kind of place (what ARE they called... I CANNOT remember) Well, whatever it is called, this font thingy had been put to a secondary use as a hose rack...either that or they had decided on a better system for mass baptising the infidels in Plaça however-you-spell-it-Catalunya, with the help of that baptismal hose jobbie...I've heard of rivers for baptising, even hot tubs (not Catholic baptisms) but a hose...what the heck.

Did I ever chat today too! My folks, a friend from here, the kids with a friend in TO, me as well with a friend from TO, and Nomad. You must understand, our phone doesn't ring more than once a when it's busy around here, and this was a LOT of calls for us.

Nomad, I would like to say is so inspiring, we were chatting away today about the online art course we are going to take, sounds like an oxymoron, but no, and about our art studies in the past, and our art related goals in the future and what we want to work on most and I got going on see, I needed to set the yellow doorway aside for a bit to think, and the kids were making a lot of noise, and I had said to Nomad that I REALLY needed to work on figure drawing...and you know, youngest, even when she is on the computer with a friend who is on Skype from Toronto, and they are playing a game and chatting...she wriggles....a lot. She also sits in the way of her sister, so impromptu life drawing wasn't really in the cards....instead I did this, which is a copy of a colour print of a Murillo from around obviously isn't finished, but it is going OK so far I think....I already fixed the shoulder but I am too lazy to re-photograph it and reload the photo to Blogger so you'll have to trust me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Painting and walking: a lovely day.

Started another painting today...well, got a lot done on it don't need to say anything nice, it is not far enough along to look balanced yet...but I like the way it is headed....

Chuck and I went for a walk in the hills today, we are taking it a little slower these days, he needs his energy for killing protozoans or some such thing, and it is getting hot is interesting, he tends to trot through the sunny spots and loiter through the shade...I stagger through the sunny bits and loiter in the shade. It does give me time to see critters like this one trundling by...he was quite big!

And this one too....we have had a bunch of rain here lately and the bugs are out more...

Do you know what those are? Artichokes!!!!

One of our rest stop was in a dry creek bed. Because it has rained so much lately the sand is all cool and loose. Chuck made himself right at home...digging holes, stuffing his head in them, rolling in the sand, shovelling it aside with his face. Flopping his overheated tum into the nice cool sand he had just dug up. He was a very happy dog.

Don't you think so?

Friday, May 16, 2008


How can a doctor be forty minutes late for the second appointment of the day, you know, at 9:10 A-freaking-M?????

He was in there. It is not like there was any sort of eMERgency.


Sucking chest wound of a mumble mumblemumble

Not the best start to the day.

PS. The day did improve.

PPS. A lot.


look what I found while looking for the sidebar poem about doctors...

Click on it to read if you like...but, OMG, this is the waiting room project out of the UK, they chose poetry for waiting rooms all over, an excellent idea to my mind, much better readding that info about bunion surgery..but one called Acceptance? You have GOT to read this...

What were they thinking?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I love here.

One day recently, probably the day after I wrote about finding it hard, I came to the completely unstartling conclusion that we need to focus on the good things that are going on, not the bad.

Despite being hardly ground-breaking news, it can be rather difficult to do from time to time.

Not today though.

Here's some things I love about my life here.

I love it that I can go to the market and use almost no plastic bags.

I love it that one of the ladies in the market exchanges recipes with me, and that the eggs I buy from her are still dirty, that she actually feeds the chickens vegetables, that the yolks stand up about three quarters of an inch proud of the white when you crack it, that they are an amazing orange colour, and that I can take both the (cardboard) cartons and the elastic bands back to her and she'll use them again. How good does it get?

I love it that most of the women and men here carry a straw basket to do their shopping and so do I,

I love it that most people use one of these for the bread...

I got this two days local bakery lady asked a friend of hers to sell me one...I still haven't paid for it yet, but one of these days....this seems to be the norm here, a certain amount of waiting to pay for things is OK....

I also love the food.

Today I wanted to eat meat...really, 'where's the beef'...I actually said it aloud to myself as I walked down the street. Eldest would have DIED of embarrassment, but fortunately for her, she wasn't there.

When I say I wanted to eat meat....I WANTED to...

So...I went down to the market and picked up six little sausages, made by the lovely butcher lady, or one of her compatriots, and then I got some alloli...(take a lot of garlic, peel it, mince it, put it in a mortar with olive oil and pound it until it is a smooth emulsion like mayonnaise, but WAY WAY WAY better) Please note I bought is apparently easy to make, but, well, at 1 Euro a pot..I am not too motivated.

I got home, fried up my sausages, sliced open a fresh crusty baguette from today, slathered it in alloli, sliced in some soft ripe bursting-with-flavour tomatoes, dropped the sizzling hot sausages in and had the best lunch I've had in a good, and I had such a craving on, I didn't take a picture...I thought of as I walked home, and again as I was half way through it, but it was so good, I couldn't resist continuing to stuff the garlicy, tomato-y, crispy, soft, gooey, salty, slightly greasy mess into my face.

It was SOOOOO good.

Remind me of this when I whine, m'kay?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random things.

1. I am impatiently waiting to use two phrases some day in my spoken English. Well, and I am waiting to remember to use them when I get the chance. Do you do this? My other big problem is that there are not that many people that I speak English with....anyway, they are these two phrases....
a description of a person as: a sucking chest wound of a human, and I also someday want to say that an idea: is getting traction. Or not getting traction. I would be happy either way.

2. Medical day today....a quick visit for Eldest at the hospital in BCN, (BIG THANK YOU to a friend here who drove me in...and what a lot of Catalan we spoke!) I also took Chuckster to the vet...he is not getting worse, but he is not getting better. Another 20 now takes both the man and I to do them; he doesn't like it.

3. I have discovered that my Catalan has gotten to where I largely understand the language if I just let it sort of flow over me and lap around inside my head, if I make the fatal mistake of trying to think about it, or remembering that I am listening to Catalan, I am T.O.A.S.T. as in, it is not gaining traction with me at all (!!!!!!) However what is even worse is when I realise that I have noticed it is Catalan, and I start trying to think about not thinking that it is Catalan. My future now holds two possibilities...either I will improve in Catalan, or the Dalai Lama will send me a certificate for thinking about not has to be worth something on the route to Nirvana...sort of like the meditation where you have to describe the sound of one hand clapping (that would be a blessed silence as anyone with noisy children could tell you in the fraction of a nanosecond.)

4. I got on my witch broom today with some kids in a class I was substituting teaching...someone should have taken those boys around behind the barn or into the woodshed a few years ago. I threw a mere four kids out of my class. Rotten stinking brats...RUDE brats. Some day they will realise that not everyone loves them, indeed some people really really dislike them.

5. Eating strawberries....big beautiful strawberries straight off the stem...makes me burp outrageously and luxuriously....

6. In class today, a child - not one of the kids I threw out - thanked me for something. I said 'your welcome' which made her laugh and say, "but I'm already here!"

7. Chuckbacka can catch popcorn in the air!


Lookee lookee lookee at the book that Nomad sent me! Is she not the BEST! It came in the mail today, and now that eldest is in bed, I may get to read some of it too! Have I mentioned recently how much I adore this woman? What a great gift to have come in the door. I am SO excited.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Snake-y kind of moments.

1. The man yesterday, out of the blue, started telling me about the snakes around here.

2. The school where I teach was inordinately cold today, and between classes I kept having to go out front and sit on the curb trying to rebuild some warmth in my body....very herpetological of me.

3. While walking His Chuckiness in the hills today I saw a big snake! It was probably three feet long (or a meter for you metric types), skinny, poo brown with some darker sections, but no stripes and a skinny head....and a very long skinny tail.

Chuck was profoundly disinterested. I was deeply fascinated. It was all coiled up and forgive me, but I thought it was an uncollected turd at first, then it moved....

I am still kicking myself for not bringing the camera.

I cannot identify the animal despite a half hour search online.

Ah's not a photo blog I suppose.

Coming soon to this space...scorn, mothers and teens...where's the line....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, some two turtles.

First things first, today we went off to the hospital to get eldest's TB test read, and to every one's considerable relief, it was negative. The kids does NOT have tuberculosis. Thank God.


While we were in BCN getting this done we decided to see some of the sites that we could see in the area, and we came across some pretty cool stuff. We went back to Pedralbes, but it was closed. Poop, neither the man nor youngest had ever gone, but it is Monday and most things are closed Monday even if it is a holiday. Yes we have another holiday, this one is the second Easter...seems Jesus manages to rise from the dead twice every year here in Spain, a miraculous skill that I find somewhat confusing, but which I daren't question too closely as we do get an extra holiday out of it.

So we also paid a visit to the Parc d'Oreneta, of was actually a bit dismal. Potentially lovely, but clearly the city was not putting the money into it that was necessary, the restaurant was a truck trailer, and the vegetable compost heap (industrial sized with concrete truck ramp) was right at the main gates.

So then we wandered down in search of some Gaudi....and look what we found:

Astonishingly GM and I walked right past this without noticing earlier this year, which does rather boggle the mind....the fellow at the top of the page, who I find enormously compelling is the block of lighter rock to the left of the dragon's gaping maw.

We also found some more later on....

along with a pergola in a trademark Gaudi arch...these two were very early on in his career.

A nice place to sit....

We saw these little guys out and about by the pond with the lilies. The pond had been put in as an ornamental for an apartment building.

If you go back up the the man at the top of the page, something I noticed in the picture, but failed to see in person is the teeny tiny trencada tile work that was done in the grout in the brick-work. Can you imagine? It leaves me gasping this attention to detail.

See, there it is again, I zoomed in on a section of brick that was off to one side of another photo, and then doctored the photo a bit as I really was pretty far away, and this section wasn't fully in focus...but...look....all the way through the building, the same amazing grout work.

Mind-bogglingly amazing. I am tempted to do it some day, I'd have to do it myself though, the cost!