Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Painting day 2

Today was some frustrating; which is good, because it means you are being pushed to do things that you don't normally do, and that maybe aren't what you want to do, but maybe are good for you to do.....

here's some pics.....

We had to start out with a black and white painting of the model....we started last night and continued today.....

It's OK...I don't have a strong desire to hang it on my wall, but it was an interesting exercise.

Then we had to do a painting with a single warm tone....I hated mine enough that I am not showing you....it's all grey with a creepy yellow tinge. Euck.

Then we had to do a limited palette work...I liked this enough to paint it, though the teacher got in and got me to get the tones of the foot deeper, I think they look too deep myself, it was one pale chica, but....you know, he's the pro. Literally.

Then we had to use only colour and no tonal differences to paint a part of the model. My first go - which I loved - was not what he wanted at all, so I had to start again. This is OK...if you like beige...he works from something of a realism school....I am a little further out there by preference, but I am here to be stretched out of what I normally do...so it is an excellent exercise....

Came out kind of pale in the photo....

Then I had a little paint left over in the palette and did this.....which I actually think I will crop heavily......

So there's a little of what I did today...it was a mind game, partially trying to figure out what the heck it was he wanted, and then trying to do it...

Good fun.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Paint paint paint

Day 1:

Life drawing with paint.

The morning was a little challenging getting warmed up again, I did alright with the drawings on the small paper, but the big paper was something of a disaster....

then in the afternoon we finally got to get out the brushes, again rather a small scale, but given the mornings problems.....

much better.

Sadly we can only be there from 9:30 am through to 4:30, so we cannot stay late and paint; which I do truly find frustrating, but six hours a day will have to hold me, even if I do feel like 10 or more.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

It is such a challenge drawing what you actually see rather than what you think you see. Total head game.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Modern art

There was a little boy, about one and a half chortling gleefully about the little strings on posts that the Tate Modern had so kindly provided for him to run his hands along as he walked.

Something for everyone there.

Tomorrow the painting starts.

Bring it on.

ps. youngest is right. I really really like blue paintings.

maybe that's why I love the Bahamas so much. All that blue as far as the eye can see.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

British Airways food SUCKS

I'm here somewhere in a large city in the UK...where did I land again?

British airways. The sandwich was dated best before Mar 30...I have a photo to prove it. NO chicken salad sandwich should be allowed to live for more than three hours.


Been to a pub already too...with a big fat whack of lovely family...and met some lovely new soon to be family that I think I could get on with like a house on fire, and just how good is that!


and the youngest sounded a lot happier on the phone than she did this morning, so I don't feel quite so guilty.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mixed....isn't itever so.

Posting and blog reading may be erratic for the next week....

I am off for an entire week of



I'll try and get some pics up...but no promises....

I am going to miss the family a whole big fat bit.

Thursday, March 26, 2009



Now I will admit that the Canadian heathcare system is far from a utopian dream...it has flaws, no doubt.

The Spanish one is making me crazy.

I should be, and am, grateful to have fully subsidised health care.....but OMG.... When I go for a physical in TO, my wonderful Dr. does the works. Here, it requires four separate appointments. One for the pap, another for the internal, a third for blood and urine work and a fourth to actually listen to your heart and all that. Another apt for a mammogram, then another appointment to get the results rather than a phone call. The results of each appointment requires a seperate appointment....if you are lucky, you can double the up...not always.

It's like a freaking hobby for crying out loud.

When I had to get that skin cancer thing-y taken off my nose, here in Spain it required an appointment with the regular doctor, then an appointment with a dermetologist, who then sent me to a plastic surgeon, there was the first appointment to look at the thing (waiting time well over a hour), and then another appointment to remove it (months later).

In TO? An appointment with my Doc, who debated removing it on the spot; but it was kind of, um, obvious looking being on my nose and all, and being kind of, well, HUGE, so she sent me off to a dermatologist...who wants a mangled hole in the middle of your face. The second appointment, with a dermetologist, about a week and a half later (10 minute wait): he took one looked, took a photo and carved the sucker out. Done. *ouch*

Do they not realise here that people don't actually want to have this as a near second job/very involved hobby?.....if only we were paid for it.

Makes me NUTS.

My Gyn appointment was mysteriously cancelled on me...I found out when I got there. It was in a neighbouring town. Fortunately the friend who drove me over, out of the goodness of her heart, hadn't gone very far and now I have that handy-dandy cell phone!!!

I also have a whole slew of new appointments....all for some time from now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

run run run run run run run

I have been thinking about running.

I hate running.

I have always hated running.

Loathed it in fact.

It is just so convenient though, and cheap.

I get up every morning anyway to walk the dog...why not jog the dog...it even rhymes.

I have been reading a bunch of bloggers who are taking it up, or who love to run, and one of my cousins has taken it up as well, and I am so impressed.

I found this plan on line through one of those bloggers that has started up; it's the couch to 5K plan....incrementally a little more each week, and at the end of 9 weeks, theoretically, you can run 5K three times a week in about 30 minutes each...(variations obviously occur blahblahblah).

The shoes look comfy and some of them almost look cool...even if you do look like you are from the jetsons....

Then we went and saw part of the BCN marathon, and let me tell you, if you stood me beside some of those runners, you would be gambling on me finishing the course not them...pot bellies, bandy legs, hunched backs, overweight....whatever.....but let me tell you I can barely make it to the bus stop,

and it bugs me.

I was talking to the man about it.

He thought it would be a good idea, but pointed out that I hardly seemed enthusiastic.

He is so right.

I want to like running....

it's just

I don't.

Thanks to the Bahamas.

If you were finding the roots of this economic meltdown a little confusing, go here for a (humourous) rephrasing of the entire mess.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

how do you say that?

Did you know that in British English pour and paw sound identical?

I can't quite figure out how to get my mouth around that.

For me, they rhyme with door and saw, it just doesn't work somehow.

Languages are the most peculiar things....

try this out, words with ough in them:

Say each of them aloud and listen to all the different sounds those 'ough's make.


a roughty toughty brutal sort of language.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A girry no more

Pronounced giddy, as in, "I am giddy with laughter".

Is that how I spell that word???

Anway, I went into BCN today...and I may look like a girry (tourist from N Europe), walk like a girry, but I am no longer a girry.

Two ways I know.

1. When I went into the embassy I was not there because my passport had been stolen, rather I was looking into getting it renewed.

When I tell people that the pickpockets in this city are beyond a joke, I am not kidding and the line at the consulate on a Monday morning attests to that. The victims effectively shut down the consulate every Monday.

2. I was looking at all the girries today wandering around dressed in sandals, sundresses, t-shirts, shorts...and realised that I was still wearing my winter shoes, socks, jeans, an undershirt, long-sleeved shirt and a fleecy jacket thankyouverymuch. No sunglasses either, and I had on sunscreen so I wouldn't look like a beet at the end of the day. Though someone commented I looked more tanned....seems I am now tanning easily....don't really understand that, but whatever.

3. I found myself giving advice to a Catalan today. In Catalan. For an hour.

Starting to blend in here it seems...

Then again, youngest has been invited to 2 first communion (?) ceremonies here, this is a BIG deal, and I am going to have to do some asking around so we don't screw up our part in the events, and, you know, look like hopeless girries.

Speaking of Youngest, she had a rather dramatic hour this evening. My kids have to watch out. She was sitting peacefully reading an Archie comic when I asked the man to phone the dentist for an appointment to see if a stubborn tooth should be pulled from youngest's head. 10 minutes later she found herself in the dentist's chair with pliers in her mouth.

She was a very good sport.

And she had been asking to have it pulled.

Gotta roll with the action around here.

You know,

in not-girry land.

Pau i amor


Sunday, March 22, 2009

To the MOON!

First thing I have to say:

NEVER ever ever ever buy a zune. I have never met software more difficult to use, more prone to bizarre failures and more prone to crashes.


NEXT: I totally kicked my to do list out the door. Wanna know what I did? I fixed the wifi, fixed eldest's zune*sigh*, did a giant freaking 7 page academic medical translation into Catalan (took freaking HOURS), did all the stuff I have to do for work here (hours more), and in TO (ditto), finalised the last camp, contacted folks about ordering trees from the States for a friend here, made a new calender, wrote a critical e-mail(more than once), answered every last e-mail I had to (no more obnoxious little gold stars looking at me accusingly), made a dr appointment, made a dentist appointment for youngest, took eldest to the Dr (she's OK), got all my painting supplies organisied for the week after next, and made a list of what I need, including getting the freaking suitcase out, ate, fed kids, cooked dinner, sorted laundry and damn it, I finished the freaking list.

And I got to go walk in the hills with the whole family!

Want to know what the last thing on the list was? A home pedicure. I am, as I type, sitting with my feet in a big bucket of hot water. Mmmmmmm.

Didn't make the beach though.

I'd be surprised if you can't see my halo glowing from all the way over there.

Something else I wanted to mention that I find just lovely here right now. Want to know what the latest craze in toys is? Not the wii, not game boy...no....it is a wooden top with a pull string like our folks/grandparents used to play with. That and scooters.

Just have got to love that.

has tagged me with a liar's meme. Looks like fun, and I'll give it a go.


For now... a book, a bucket of warm water, then bed.

Hope you had a great day..

Pau i amor


Saturday, March 21, 2009


Youngest got trounced in basketball today...82 - 19. OUCH. The other team was WAY better, though the ref sucked too...honestly, that boy was blind. Actually he was a little lazy and was always behind the play...he just hung around center court.


It was a full 1 hour drive each way...chatting in Catalan with a parent. You remember those truly hellish tiny children's birthday parties where you have to STAY cause the kids are really too little to be left alone, but you neither know, nor care to know any of the other moms, but you are stuck making small talk for freaking HOURS! GAWD how I hated that. Now try it in Catalan, on the highway with a man with a weird accent, I understood about 6 words in 10 and had to piece the rest together. Eventually I got tired of it and started going on a bit on my own. At least I understood what I was saying.

Then....get a load of this....then I had a three hour nap!!! SWEET!!!!!

Eldest woke me up saying that both of the girls wanted to go and walk in the hills with the dog (and a bag of candy)...hello....I must still be dreaming!

My freaking halo is glowing too as I finally kicked my to do list IN. THE. BUTT!!!!!

(OK, there is still some more on it, but let me pretend things are much better, m'kay?)

There is a great Catalan saying that we tend to build houses from the roof down...which means we do the stupid little things that have immediate deadlines and never have time for the big things. I had a wicked freaking backlog of e-mails, and and and and....plowing through it all....and that is good.

Tomorrow, kill off the rest of the list, maybe a nap, walk the dog...and maybe take Eldest to the Dr. She can get herself the weirdest ailments, now that little flap of skin that attaches your upper lip to your gums seems to be infected. Every heard of that before? Me neither. Plus Chuck's ear is bugging him. Given the number of ticks I have picked off the beast I am wondering if one has taken up residence in there.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to the vets we go!

One more person got laid off at the man's work this week, but so far we're still standing.

I suspect this is going to be one of those times when you don't realise that you are actually wickedly stressed out, but when you look back on it all, you realise that you were strung up tight as a drum....

Here's to long naps and sunny days! Maybe I'll go to the beach tomorrow. That might just be the plan.

cheers, and hug the one you love!

Pau i amor


Friday, March 20, 2009

How to....

On a lighter note, I thought I would let you in on a couple of asparagus hunting tricks....

This is what you're looking for, always a good place to start...

That big prickly looking thorny mess is what an asparagus plant looks like around here. For some reason I haven't spent time figuring out yet, they are often at the base of trees....

You search around for where they are emerging from the ground, which is not always clear, and then look in amongst the bases for one of these:

That one's too small to keep....some of them grow off at a distance from the main plant, so you want to look around for these pioneering loners, and some of them are still good, but quite tall, so you have to let your eyes wander up as well.

What is important also is that you take a goofy dog along with you, so he can pick up ticks and roll around ecstatically in the grass.

Then go home and eat...though they are actually quite good as is, and surprisingly liquidy when you pick them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The rage series.

Fruits of my fury.

The second last one...I was feeling a lot calmer.

The last one I worked on the bulk of it today. Not sure it is done yet though. not quite sure.

I don't understand why the photos have come out so uneven...some good, some terrible.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

well....we'll see what happens.

I have been assured that the math teacher will not be there next year.

I have been assured that Eldest, and her entire grade, will have the best math teacher in the school next year.

I have been assured that the head of studies will look into all the issues.

I have been assured that the head will speak to the Spanish teacher.

I have been assured that he will call me to tell me what has happened.

I have been assured that he will speak to the teachers about demanding that the students produce printed-from-a-computer homework for next day. It is a PUBLIC school. They don't ALL have computers!

I actually was openly scornful when he suggested that teenagers would tell their teachers that their parents were too poor to buy a computer. Viciously, openly scornful.

I have been assured that if I circumvent the official system of putting a note in the student's agenda for the teacher, and instead phone for an appointment, the teacher in question will call me back. (That didn't happen today by the way)

I actually accused the Spanish teacher of laziness.

I actually said that the Spanish teacher wasn't doing his job which, as a refresher, is teaching.

I actually said that the what has happened this year with the math course is a mass of stupidities.

I actually said that the math teacher does not appear to be able to do her job.

I actually asked why she didn't get mentoring.

I didn't actually slap myself on the forehead and shout, "DUH" when he said that maybe that would be a good idea.

I actually said that mentoring and supervision is something that should have gone on a long time ago.

I actually said that the current system of communication with the parents is totally inadequate, and that something needed to be changed on an institutional level.

I actually didn't mention the word racism when he said that we weren't really immigrants because we are not from Morocco or Africa. (An all too common sentiment)

I actually did, clearly, state that we are indeed immigrants just like everyone else who has come here....it is not a dirty word.

I actually feel moderately, temporarily, warily patient.

If only his handshake had not been so extremely damp and weak, and if he had shaken hands with more than the ends of his fingers; like wobbling sun-warmed slimy jellied seaweed stalks.

I am also deeply disturbed by the heavy police violence against student protesters at the University of Barcelona today. As one of the Professors said...it is an image we had hoped was past: police entering a University, armed and riot protected, police blocking doors to a University, police violently attacking students at the University.

Estic d'accord.

The head of the university ordered the police in.

....overnight there were more protests, the police violence has continued. Along with many many students, bystanders and journalists have been injured as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Oh my "f"ing GOD

I am so very tremendously frustrated with Eldest's school I could just about spit. Honestly, I want to go over there and b*itch slap about four different teachers for the better part of a day.

Do these people even have an idea of what teaching is? Of what their job is? Of what the h*ll they are there for?

I have a meeting with the head of studies tomorrow, and I am not going to be nice at all.

This is a big fat stinking piece of sh*t, and I am going to stir it up but good.

I cannot even go into it all without my head exploding.

I haven't felt this violently frustrated since I was a teen.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever..... it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. (Moby Dick)

Hang onto your hats ladies and gentlemen...

F*cking H*ll.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I never used to suffer from vertigo or fear of heights.


My mother will attest to this.

Today however, a little.

I went up one of the towers at the Sagrada Familia with our guest, and there were a few moments....

Part of it has to do with a certain lack of faith in Spanish buildings, possibly unjustified, but still....particularly the older concrete work.....ummmmmmm, just don't lean on those railings, m'kay?

Then there is the key differences between Spanish and Canadian safety requirements....such as rails that come up higher than the bend in your hip to keep you from tipping over.


We were up there, and it was WAY cool....

and yes....I didn't take the camera.......Picture me hammering myself over the head with the laptop.....

what was I thinking?????

Then there were these two little balcony things you could go out on....but the entrance was actually up a few steps, and the the balustrade was kind of low, so as you came out the door, the top of the railing was sort of above your ankles but well below your knees....this coupled with the stunning view of BCN gave you the sense that you were about to sail off into the distance....things improved as you moved down the short flight of stairs, but the rails were none too high, and I found I had an uncomfortable feeling in the soles of my feet.....

The stairs down from the tower were fine, but some British girls ahead of us were having a rougher go of it....


gotta ask,

anyone out there afraid of heights?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hold hands.


Busy day.

We should all sleep well tonight.

We ate well (more fresh wild asparagus),

we walked well,

we talked well,


we saw some cool stuff.


Wanna see a bit?

Here goes.....

The Sardana is the Catalan national dance, and to be honest with you is not all that much to look at, no spectacular leaps or jumps, it really looks quite simple. That said, like so many Catalan national activities it is something that is done as a group, something that seems to be a connecting theme with most of the traditions.

One of the risks of being from Mediterranean stock, you are so vulnerable to that mafia look, don't you think?

Saw a black smith at work, sporting the Barça colours (they won tonight), and sporting a classic Catalan do...the dreadlock mullet. He actually isn't that bad looking all things considered, and the mullet is so long that it almost qualifies as another issue altogether.


Hope you had a good weekend, I think this was one of the fastest of my entire life, but I loved it too....so much sweetness and fun.

Friday, March 13, 2009

what is going on here????

I just haven't quite figured this one out.

It has happened to me twice now, and I am still not sure quite what the deal is.

Both times I have been walking down the street speaking English with another woman, no children around, when a man, both times a relatively recently immigrated African, has come up to me and started chatting.

Both times I have been just walking along, and they have been friendly, well dressed and neatly put together.

They fall into step beside me and say hello.

I respond with hello,

Then they ask where I am from, I respond with Canada, and ask where they were from, not a question I would normally feel it polite to ask so early in a conversation, but, well, they started it I figure....

We then ask each other how long we've been here, what langauges we can speak, I usually ask to learn a word or two in their languages that I cannot speak....the guy today was from Gambia and the languages he spoke were English and Mandinka. The conversation continues for a bit longer, and then we are usually heading in different directions, I bid them a friendly farewell, and we go our separate ways.

I remain a little mystified by the encounters though.

Just extroverted friendliness? Do they want to practice their English? Are they angling for something and are disconcerted by my friendly interest and never get around to the bid, I don't think my pockets are at risk, they are too friendly and to in my face, and both times they were alone.

Trust me, I checked.

Gonna have to ask about this one.......see what I can figure it out.

Bad news, good news

How not to lay off a work force:

Begin randomly and suddenly with no warning.

Lay off two people at the end of the day.

Continue this process, laying off one or two people every day precisely at 4pm.

Never talk to the staff about this.

The next week, do nothing, lay no one off, but do not communicate to anyone about anything.

Wonder why moral is low.

mjnummmmmmmmmmmm (that note brought to you by Chuck's nose...Youngest thought I should leave it in. Boy can type too!!!)

On a good note, it's the weekend....and I went into BCN and met up with Diane and it was MARVELOUS!!! She is going to be moving to BCN in the next very short little bit, and I showed her around all the places I wish I had known about and that took me ages to find.

Hope you enjoyed it Diane, it was great to meet you and totally fun to show off a little bit of this city I have grown to love....

Oh, and the man still has a job.




Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yes, yes yes, I'll be NICE. Gonna get an ulcer one of these days, but I'll be nice.

Putting on my witch hat to deal with Eldest's school. Again.

They have this handy-dandy system for managing communication between the parents and the students. The kids have an agenda they have to carry around with them everywhere...and there is a space in the back where the parents can leave a note for the teacher.

This is far from a bullet-proof system.

The first obstacle of course is the teenager who with a mixture of horror, disdain, embarassment and sheer adolescent stubborness needs at least two days and several *ahem* reminders to actually show it to the teacher.

The system, however, dissolves entirely if the teacher then says they will look at the note next week.

Not good enough

When she then goes and breaks a leg (purely to disrupt my life) the system weakens further, and when said adolescent comes back saying she didn't want to show the note to the *)@#(*&@#@ math teacher because she looked like she was having a bad day..........

let me show you what a bad day looks like, mkay?

Not good enough

I called the school today, the head of studies was out.

I'll call tomorrow morning as well.

You know, dealing with the parents is part of the job.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Catch up...

A little less tired today, and as I mentioned yesterday, Hula's little gift came!!!

Look!!!! a book!

Impatient as always, Youngest and I tore it from it's wrapping in the post office, and the book fell open to this page which made me laugh right out loud right there in the post office.

Youngest didn't get the joke.

This is the on trial rocker....I think it is going to get the nod....comfy!!! A kind of weird industrial art deco design or something or other, but comfy and in my book that goes a long long way.

Now we need to instill in Chuck an intuitive understanding about the danger of those rockers before he gets a paw or his nose squished.

On another note. What do you do with a book you hate? Do you keep reading doggedly? Do you bail? Skip ahead? Check out the ending?

I am currently reading a loathsome book. Not so bad that I have chucked it away, but but but....I do. not. like. it. Not one little bit. Nino Ricci's Origin of the Species. I think I mentioned that before, it is worth bearing in mind. The protagonist is a whining little waste of air space blindly blathering his way from one non-event to another inflicting pain on those around him in a truely sightless and thoughtless way. Can you see why I like it so much? If he would just stop the infernal whinging!


I think maybe it is time for a new book.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Going with the flow.

I have been sitting here in front of the screen scanning through the day in my mind, and then searching through the last few days, and I am coming up blank.

Is that a function of tiredness, or of a life lived without thought...

An interesting question.

Was today sufficiently mundane that there is nothing striking that caught my mind?

The man still has work. Good.

I spoke with one of the women who got laid off, and she is struggling, but OK.

I had a glorious walk in the hills with the dog, and found two asparagus shoots which I ate raw on the spot with the juice scenting my fingers.

I felt discouraged about my never improving Catalan, and chatted with a woman learning Spanish with incredible skill.

I tried on a couple of pairs of jeans. I am clearly not the same shapeas what is typical here...they were too long...(though that is the fashion, not mine thankyouverymuch), too tight, and then had this weird bag in the back like I could store my books in there or something.



How is it that a plain old pair of jeans can fit SO badly.


I dropped into a shoe store just too look. They didn't have my size, my feet are too big it seems.

Weirdness abounded today.

Now you are getting a stream of consciousness post, cause that's all there is folks...at least this evening.

Wishing for a more reflective tomorrow.

Hope you had a good one,


Monday, March 9, 2009


Hula! I got your gift today!!!

I'll post info tomorrow, it's too late for photos.

Thank you so very very much!

On another note,

They just don't do yard sales here. I love a good yard sale, and where we lived in Canada we had an annual street sale that was great....you got rid of a years worth of junk, nothing EVER came back in the house...ever ever ever....and maybe you made a little cash. Plus you hung out with the neighbours all day, and we had a big fat pot-luck/bbq to end the evening off.


Here where we are that just doesn't happen. Totally different system in fact.

I may have mentioned it, but the system is quite simple. You don't want something, you put it out. Whoever may want it, takes it home...no dumpster diving stigma here!

You see, we don't have door to door garbage pick up, instead there are communal neighbourhood bins, which I just love...no more running out the door half nekkid at 6:47 am because you can hear the d*mn truck coming up the street and you are going to have to store all that rotting compost for another week if you don't make it out in time...

Nope, saunter out whenever you feel like it and drop it in the bin. Most civilised.

Plus it serves as a community large-garbage depot.

Don't want something anymore? Just put it out by the dumpsters, and chances are it'll be GONE.

Large garbage gets picked up TWICE A WEEK! Get a load of that!

Anyway, it means that with a little patience you can often find what you might otherwise pick up at a garage sale. It also means that a certain amount of community work is put into play. You let other people know that you want something if it is getting desperate...eldest's bed frame for instance....and then they scout for you too!

We just picked up a new rocker that we have on trial, and a dining chair for a friend, to see if she will like it or not!

Photos to come...too late tonight. Gotta go read my horrid book....may just quit this sucker soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mmichele made me do it!

Mmichele passed on one of them virtual awards to me... The Premio Dardo Award. Doesn't it sound oh so Italian?She awareded it to me because I am, "one of the most culteral/literary people I know in the blog world."

EEEK!!! Can I live up to this???

Premio Dardos means "prize darts.” This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.

Step 1: Respond and rework — answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, add one more question of your own.

Step 2: Tag other bloggers to do the same.

Here are the questions:

What are you wearing right now? My black fleecy jacket that I love, a pink crazy quilt patterned shirt with embelishments, but sadly no quilting, a jockey undershirt and no bra as it was bugging me, plus cordroy cargo camos with sparkly buttons on the butt and lace lining, black socks and red espardanyas.

What part of your house never gets cleaned? The underside of my stove vent. How do you clean those things anyway???

Do you nap a lot? Not nearly as much as I'd like....probably once a week, but if I could, I'd nap every single solitary day. Got an hour in today!

Who is the last person you hugged? Eldest.

What websites do you visit when you go online? Bloglines, twitter, facebook, expat blogger, my e-mail account, the banks, ummmmmm, some annoying blogs that don't have RSS feeds, but they are friends so I go anyway...

What was the last item you bought? Chocolate and fresh roasted almonds.

What’s the last book you read? Just finished, today, Haruki Murakami's Dangerous Lover: South of the border, West of the sun. In Catalan. Good, though depressing, and somewhat predictable, though unpredictable too. That's a review that is written like a piece of crap isn't it. Now I am reading Nino Ricci's The Origin of the Species and finding it annoying. SUCH a whiner. Feel like b*tch slapping the main character out to Kansas, and that is some distance from here.

If you could go to the Oscars, who would you want to sit next to? Someone bitter, deeply cynical and stunningly witty.

Has a celebrity’s hair cut ever influenced your own hairstyle? Not that I know of. The man cuts it.

What is one skill you wish you had, but don’t: Running, languages, painting, I don't know, there are lots. Patience, is that a skill???

What was the last movie you watched? Harry Potter, I don't know which one.

What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? Being born Canadian with the family I have, and meeting the man I married. Plus the kids...goodness, I'm just not narrowing things down, but I never was good at superlatives.

If you had a whole day to yourself; no work, commitments or interruptions what would you do? Hang out, read, see some art, sit in the sun, walk the dog somewhere with few people, go sailing, start and end the day sleeping on a boat, row the dingy, look at amazing scenery, catch sight of a wild animal, eat great food, read aloud to the girls, master a language, paint, write, relax, does it have to all be something I could do in one day????

Is there a major goal you have that you haven’t yet achieved? OH, lordy where to start????

Where did you meet your spouse/partner/bf/cat? In Toronto, spouse.

What is something that those in blogland might not know about you? Lots. And I like it that way.

What Countries have you visited as an adult? Ummm, the list is long. Do you REALLY want me to do this? That sounds obnoxious doesn't it...OK.....Lets see..Hawaii (I know, it's not a country, but it's WAY out there), Fiji, NZ, Aus, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, USSR, Poland, East Germany, France, West Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Checkoslovakia (it still was at that time), several small Italian city states including the Vatican, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, India, Belgium, Holland, the UK, The US, Canada, (duh), Spain (double duh), The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, Grenada, Denmark, Poland, ummm, getting thinner here....St. Vincent and the Grenadines....that's all I'm coming up with at this point, there may be more....

What do you do to relieve stress? Laugh. walk my dog. Focus on what is great in the day/moment/life I have. Hang with the kids, unless they are feeling noisy, play solitare if I am really agitated.....

If you could change one physical trait about you what would it be? Wish my eyebrows weren't disappearing. In the land of the firm and decided eyebrow, I am getting a complex relieved only when I visit Northern Europe where I get a chance to realise that there are others without determinedly character-filled eyebrows.

As this is supposed to be a cultural award, what is the most recent piece of painting or sculpture that really impressed you? Sorolla.

I am feeling mixed about tagging, but if I don't tag anyone, no one will do it. I was too lazy to pick up the picture, so if you want to pick it up you can go over to Mmichele's and grab it there.

I'll tag ElPadawan cause I'd like to hear how he answers, and....Burkina Mom, cause I think she'll have an interesting list of countries...and She, J.G/C.S. whoever feels like it over there and Bhodi cause they've just appeared in my little part of the web universe and so I'm gifting then with this...hope you think it's a gift not a burden.


We went off to MNAC today, to see an exhibit by a Valencian painter, Joaquim Sorolla. Honestly I didn't expect much. I was wrong.

These paintings were spectacular.

They are HUGE paintings that normally live in New York City, at the Hispanic Society of America for whom they were commissioned in 1910 or so.

They are a series of enormous scenes of typical life throughout different regions of Spain.

One of the things I found fascinating was the depth of portraiture in what were essentially enormous almost stage sets. Huge scenes of activity and depth.

Here is a sample from one of the paintings.

This woman is just on an aside, one of a huge number of figures in a truely vast piece, yet it could stand entirely on it's own as a portrait. Entirely.

He also painted the portraits in varying levels of detail. Some of the faces are richly detailed portraits, while the one next to it is clear and obviously a face, but blurred, like the one above.

And these two women above.

I also love how he has captured the light. He has really completely painted the light on the subjects. Many artists did this, but I find that he is drawing with the light....

This Catalan fisherman...it is a rough portrait, but the use of light....

Here again, I am struck by the boldness of the light and the shadows. That is also typical of the light here though as well. I have a whole lot of photos I have discarded because the camera cannot handle the depth of the shadow and the startling stark brightness of the light in the same frame, not the way Sorolla can. At least not with me controlling the shutter.

He even drew with light in the sketches for the work, here below:

Hope I don't sound school marmish.....sorry. I just wanted to share what struck me about the work. The light and the intimacy.

That may be why I feel compelled to show you details from the paintings, though they were spectacular...it was the faces that finally caught my eye.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I love living here. I really do.

Today is simply a slice of heaven.

It is warm, sunny and beautiful.

Chuck and I went for a walk in the hills, running everywhere and he smells heavenly now...all rosemary and thyme and pine.

He smells like the mountains.


I managed, for the first time, to find wild asparagus!!!!


You sort of have to get an eye for it....I recognised the plants, but hadn't managed to find a shoot yet...and then all of a sudden my eye tuned in and they were everywhere....well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I managed to find a handful! That is as much as some of the older Catalans have managed. It's kind of looking for sea beans or sea glass, once your eye, or brain is tuned, you can find them everywhere, before that, it's like they don't exist.

Look! (please excuse the grungy counter..we're all lucky I stopped long enough for a picture before I snarfelled these up with a big fat dab of the organic French butter my sister brought me!)

And look who I met in the hills! I am sorry the photo is blurry....the camera was on auto-focus and it just felt like looking at the sticks in the ground, and Mr. Bumblebee didn't hang around for second shot. He's feasting on thyme flowers. Can you imagine what that honey would taste like!

This is where I go walking.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

I have been insulted.


Every day I feel more at one with the Catalans.

This is weird though.

Someone today told me to, "Speak Christian."

This is actually a relatively grave insult from my understanding, and I presume it harkens back to the days of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, and continued with expulsion of the Jews; which gives it a working and violent lifespan of around a 700 years or more. In recent times it has been used, and still is occasionally used, by Spanish speaking Spanish people (usually fairly right wing ones) against Catalans.

While Franco was in power, it was used quite commonly. The assumption being, of course, that you were not lovable in the eyes of God, were uncivilised and heathenish if you didn't speak Spanish. In all of these instances a certain level of threat was being invoked as well, in all of them fairly dire.

So, it is not a nice thing to say. Let's leave it at that.

I can also safely say it was said by a person from whom I have no concerns about his opinion...and never will. No threat was implied simply because of our relative age, and power.

Nonetheless he was swiftly and fiercely told. off.

And I got some great blog fodder out of it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Unnerving times...sort of.......well. They are supposedly unnerving, but I am not feeling at all unnerved.

The lay offs are coming thick and fast at the man's work....six people out of maybe thirty so far.....

ho hum.

Plan B and C being put into play. Maybe d, e and f too.....

The fact is though that I've been sleeping like a baby, and it's a festa every night he comes home and the axe hasn't fallen.


Got some ideas up my sleeve too.....so we'll see what happens.....

anyone wanna buy a painting????

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lemon mousse

Here we go, my favourite Catalan recipe today.

2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 good big lemons, juiced, strained and
the zest from 4 lemons.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, condensed milk lemon juice and zest.

Stir by hand until smooth and mixed, distribute into small serving dishes and refridgerate.

Best after at least 8 hours, or the next day.

Hope you enjoy it.


Monday, March 2, 2009

J*il bait.

Eldest got leered at by a guy in a truck.

She didn't like the experience one bit.

Can't say I blame her.

Sadly, her response was that it sucks to be a girl.

Not that some guys are d*cks.

Let the games begin.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


We were shopping in my local grocery store when I saw them.

"Calçots!" I yipped with excitement.

My sister was immediately alert....

"Ohhhhhhhhh, let's have those for supper!"

A pause while I contemplated the work and mess involved in doing a calçotada indoors with a tiny oven and charcoal.

"Yeah! Let's do it!"

So we did. It took ages, made a huge mess, and was delicious.

Here's some photos.

Before ------

Befire --------

Ready to start eating --------

You sort of pull the soft middle out of the charred outside and dip it in a Romesco sauce. Mmmmmmmmm.