Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Photos of the house from the man....

They're working on putting in all the channels for the wiring and the pipes.  They had to connect it up to the street of course, so they had to take the sidewalk apart to do it, I'm not in love, but it's OK,

This is not OK at all.  It is, I believe, right in the living room as you come in the door.  It is a sewage drain. Even if they put it into the wall, like all the others, they cannot repair the tiles in the vault.  They can replace, but it will not look the same.

Very unhappy messages went out.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So easy

It is, in so many ways, so very very easy to be in TO.

I have seen five different sets of friends in two days, plus family, a bunch of acquaintances and all the folks from work.

It is really wonderful seeing everyone.

I am still formulating the Catalan phrases I will need as I approach situations, and then don't need them.  I am finding I am stuck in the Catalan word for the English one I want, which is partially a jet lag job...

I had an honestly lovely evening.  A friend's kid had a soccer game, and after watching SPAIN'S BIG FAT WIN!!!!!, I was more than willing to go and watch some more.  Friends all over the place, the sun going down over a giant field with 6 different games going on at once and friendly open chatting people everywhere.  Kids from all over the world all playing the beautiful game together.....


Like falling off a log.

I was at work today, and my co-workers kindly lived with the game playing quietly in the background when the Spain - Portugal game was on, one woman even gave up her desk cause she had Adobe Flash and my computer didn't....we were in an informal meeting, but a meeting nonetheless, and I was talking at the meeting, and doing some work on one screen while keeping an ear on the game on the final screen...the announcers voice started to go up in that telltale pitch of excitement and I switched screens JUST IN TIME to see Spain's goal.  

I leapt out of my chair yelling, then stopped.  Explained Spain had scored, and told them I'd just sit down again now.  

Very humorous...

on another note, I am starting to worry seriously about the canvas a day project.  I think I am five days behind now...hmm.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bringing a gun to a knife fight.

His Chuckiness woke me up at 1:30 am this morning.  Right around his normal walk time in Spain.  7:30 am!  We should be out there by now!!!

How to explain jetlag to a mutt.

Cicadian rhythms are a pain.

I tried ignoring him for a while, and then remembered the nasty looking meal I had had to feed him the night before.  Good pet stores are not open on a Sunday night around 7pm.  Hmmmm, I thought to myself, mayhap this is playing a wee bit of havoc with his innards.

Heaved myself out of bed and staggered into the darkness.  Chuckbacca was unphased by the relative darkness and gleefully sniffed his way around every little blade of grass.  Yummy!  In his defence he peed a great deal, so it was not entirely wasted, and I did manage to get back to sleep again, till he woke me at 8am.

We went for another walk later.  While we were out he found a lady dog.  She was unaccustomed to the thoughts that were running through his male, intact, non-neutered doggy mind.  Hi there Sugar!  Play here often?

We went home.

Third walk.  We met another intact male.  My usually wimpy non-dominant dog figured he could take this one.  That Canuck bigger-than-Chuck dog may be intact and all, but he ain't used to those GIANT Spanish part-pitt intact males.

Piece of cake, thought my valiant and normally pacifist Chuckalicious.

After we pulled them apart (read Chuck off the other bigger dog)...?

We went home.

He's having some fun it would seem, no?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tile choices

We are thinking that we may do a part of the house with a different choice of tiles....and our contractor sent us to this site, where they make decorative tiles.  It will, undoubtably be expensive, but as we are only doing a few meters of it, not too bad.....

It is seriously fun to play with, go to the site, here.

Click it into English, unless you're feeling adventurous, then click on 'design panel' unless of course you want to do it in Catalan, in which case you'd have to click on, 'panell de design'

Chose your basic style of tile, there is 'avant-guard/puzzle', classical and geometric.  Once you're in there you can change the chose the patterns, change the colours and see how it would look all laid out.

Kinda cool, especially if you aren't paying.

Saturday, June 26, 2010 many days was that?

What a day!

I swear we squeezed about four days into yesterday alone.

We started off going shopping in BCN for shirts for Eldest, Youngest and I got some too....then we went off to Poble Espanya, and didn't go, the entrance fee was exorbitant....

SOOOOOoooooo back down to Caixa Forum, where they had a fantastic exhibit of Jacques Henri Lartigue..they were utterly delightful!  Movement and flight and action...he must have been massively talented and had the most willing family.  They seem to have spent half their lives jumping off things.

Home for a break, then Youngest and I went off to the beach...why don't I go more often?  It was a delight, I even had a short nap!

Home, then walked the dog in the mountains, another delight...with both kids too.....

Home, then watched the Spain - Chile game...which Spain was safe, but very boring for the last 10 min....they advance though anyway....Inesta got a sweet goal, and the Chilean goalie made a very bad mistake for the other...oops.

ho hum.

What with all that, no canvas yesterday, nor today either.......maybe tomorrow I'll get three done?

Friday, June 25, 2010

House update photos.

OK, I said I'd post some updates on the house...the photos are a little tricky as the sight lines are all fairly short...I'll see what I can do.

Went by this is the new facade of the house, you can see Youngest's second window and the wall at the front of the terrace.

Below is the new window in our room, complete with shaping that we fought for, and got...though I thought we'd just get the arch over the window, the builder gave us the chamfering (is that the right word?  I think so) at the sides.  Happy me.

Our room from the doorway.

The view down the hallway to Youngest's window...I've shown a couple of  versions of this before....this is the most current.  Overhead is the underside of Eldest's loft extension....the height of the underside of the terrace.

Below is inside Eldest's room, which is almost impossible to take a photo of, as it is a verticalville kind of room and will have four different levels by the time all is said and done.  This is the wall where her ladder will go up to her loft, and the brick wall is the outside of what will be the bathroom that the man and I will share.

View from Eldest's room, through their bathroom, into Youngest's and out her new window.

Youngest's room, with the bathroom and stairway walled in.

The upstairs space off the terrace...we'll put in railings before we move in.

A view of the new terrace.  The bench on the other side is wider, and we're going to paint in the fall.

I have to say I am a little antsy about leaving it all for two and half months.....the man will be here for the first half anyway, he'll be sending photos to keep us all up to date.....

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BCN tour

We went into BCN today to the Marine Museum for a visit to two new exhibitions, one of Russian painters from the 20th century and the other is called Portraits of the Sea, by a variety of Catalan painters.

We started at Plaça Catalunya, like most folks do and worked our way down through el Raval which I adore.

This is beside the Boqueria, but you normally don't really notice them as the market is so entrancing that these near Greek temple columns....which are lovely indeed...where are we anyway?

If you peak between the columns, you see the crazy pig!  Today is Sant Joan so everything is closed but the museums and some restaurants.

I love this church in el Raval, so varied and it has a Mother Teresa's group of nuns feeding the poor every morning out of it.  It is a delightful mish mash of about 15 different architectural styles and epochs.

In the museum was this, odd and fa gracia it is amusing.....look carefully.

I wouldn't mind living in a house like this for a while, just step out your door and your at the sea.....

Painted by one of the Russians.... I ADORE this one.


Then we had a slightly lavish lunch at the restaurant at the museum....mmmmmmmm.......if you are ever in BCN and need a delightful oasis of calm, the courtyard and café at the marine museum is hard to beat.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

peace, rest, tranquility....kinda.

I am finished work here.


The lull before the storm.

It would seem more like that if it weren't St Joan.

Seems rather more like....hmm, the battle of Stalingrad.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

um, what was I going to say?

Good news:  We're going to get money back on the taxes here!!!!

I got up at the wee small invigorating hour of 6:30 this morning to sort more papers, and got my reward tonight by burning the ones we don't need.

I'm all temporarily deaf again, due to ear wax I think.

We are part of the clan in some quarters it seems, locals, so to speak.,  We, totally by accident, went into our favourite local restaurant for lunch, REALLY late, because the electrician was at the house with the contractor till 3pm.  Went in half way STARVED, as I didn't get a snack at 11 today as I had to run to Eldest's school for her book list, that they don't hand out till the last day, when only the kids who have to resit exams to maybe pass them come....Eldest couldn't go, she was at the dentist's yesterday and had to get her mouth frozen.  Then she went to eat and took a big chaw out of her lip.  Big fat inflamed and nasty looking this morning.  Wow,  that was a run on sentence wasn't it.

Note to self, sleep more.


We went in there, and a BIG boo hoo  they are closing!!!!!  She's only worked there for 50 years...seems young no?

They took our photo, we wrote a letter, service was crazy slow, and it was a delight.  Seems we're regulars.

You know you're in Spain when your eleven year old comes home at 11pm.

Eldest says my posts are getting boring lately, supported by dropping readership and comments....sorry folks, crazy busy leads to crappy posts....what can I do.  I'll work on it, m'kay?

We had every. single. single. piece. of. paper they asked for the taxes.  Every last one.  I seem to be getting the hang of it now, bring everything you might need, and more.

Youngest is worried, because two of there three friends at school are going to switch schools next year.  UH OH.

I'm worried too.

Chuck isn't.  He doesn't get it.  He just knows his hip is itchy.

Good news from Eldest's school, her partial reading Catalan, John Wyndam The Day of the Triffids, Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals and something else, I can't remember what.  In Spanish, Laura Esquivel's Con Agua per Chocolate, or Like Water for Chocolate.  Plus something else reputed to be dull.

I am in the midst or enrolling both kids in on-line English courses.....hope that works out well.

I seem to be destined to do five canvases a day on the weekend and none in the week.  :-(

Got a little hate on for the electrician who spray painted all over parts of my house that are NOT going to be painted.  I am not too happy at all.

We are thinking of letting the guys work on the house in August when we aren't there.  I am feeling antsy, especially after today's spray paint debacle.

Chuck now has an itchy neck.

Can you say stream of consciousness?  Seems I can.

I still can't hear out of my left ear either.

Chuck is sending me telepathic messages that I should drop everything and scratch his stomach.

Maybe I should.

Photos tomorrow, promise.

Monday, June 21, 2010

For our sins...

Now it's time for the Spanish taxes.

Wish us luck.  We're off to the 'gestor' tomorrow, the bag of papers I'm bringing is fixing to outweigh a small child.

Wish us luck, m'kay?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Didn't happen, Did happen.

Didn't go sailing.  Poop.

Didn't go to BCN. poop.

Did nurse an unwell Youngest, now recovered...

Did finish three paintings, I'm all caught up.

Did work in the garden.

Did watch part of a (dull) football/soccer game.  Those New Zealanders seem to think they're playing Australian rules football.

Did read.

Didn't nap.

Did cut the man's hair.

Did rest and relax.

Did have a very very lovely day on the whole.

Hope you did too.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Started out peacefully enough....

Holy jeez this day wound up fast.

Started out lovely and calm, sitting around, reading, drinking tea, hanging with the kids, doing a bit of organisation on the house....

Had a nap,


It was Youngest's end of year festival.  Can you say tired?

Lots of dancing, lots of performances, lots of LOUD LOUD music.

It rained today so they moved the party from the town square to the basketball courts.  The acoustics are a wee bit louder in a basketball court.  Each class did a dance, to music.  Although the theme was global culture, there was a very strong American influence on the whole thing, we had cowboys, then indians, gospel singers and two different hip hop groups...though one was nominally bollywood hip hop....there were Hawaiian surfers as well.  On the international scale there was a slightly confusing fusion of Japanese girls dancing with Chinese boys to Chinese music, but what the heck....

Then they pumped up the music, all through the rest of the night.  Spain, or at least my corner of Catalonia is a noisy place.

My ears are a ringing and my voice has left me.  Hope it's back for Monday, still gotta teach.

Let the good times roll, no?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Life is pretty darned good over in my corner of the world.

One kid off school, one to go.

No more night classes, only mornings.

Got paid a big fat wad of cash.

It is the weekend, and I am not doing ANY work this weekend, and about time too.

The house is looking really good all of a sudden, they have nearly finished the roof and are now starting to reshape walls in the upstairs part of the house....and it is shaping up really well.  Even Youngest's room, which had me frankly worried.

They are even working to add in some bonuses for us....

Chamfering on a window where I thought we couldn't have it, an ugly door replaced for a nicer one, without asking.

Then we had pizza, bruschetta, artichokes, beans and salad for dinner, which watching Mamma Mia.

Something to be said for a musical, ya know?

Setting up to be a fabulous weekend, and I am feeling pretty happy!

Hope you all are too!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Patron saints and football...religions intertwined.

This last Sunday was the saint day of the patron saint of construction workers.  For those of you who don't follow the Spanish Catholic church calendar that closely.

The tradition is that the guys all get a full day off work for this.  We didn't know this when we went by yesterday at lunch, when I had a TOTALLY confusing conversation with them.  You see, one minute we were talking catholicism and patron saints, and then suddenly we were talking football.  Spain played Switzerland in the World Cup that afternoon.

Seems the guys decided that rather than take their full day on Monday or Friday, they would take it today so they could watch the game.  Except they only took half a day.

Wanna bet their saving the other half for the next time Spain plays?


they were kinda cranky today......could it be because Spain lost??? 

nb....three hour meeting with the architect, contractor and foreman.  So help me.  The morning lasted till four and included a half hour drive to an office to see a material and back.


Oh, and the architect was MOST unamused that they took the time off.  Most.  Though he didn't say anything.....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bureaucracy in the way of education

I went into the school (again) to talk to them about English for Eldest for next year.  I have found a good on-line academic English course that provides a good rigorous curriculum.  I was hoping they would let her work on it at school in place of the stupid incredibly basic English the kids here are still doing.

Mostly, she can.  Provisionally.

Two themes came out of the meeting.  One was the astonishing stupidity people can attribute to kids and that they can manifest themselves.  The woman wants Eldest to do all the test partially because she doesn't want the other kids to complain that she is doing something different.  Well, Hello she is!  Do you think that even one of them doesn't know that she is a native English speaker....duh.  How dumb does she think they are????  And if they do complain?  EASY....offer them the option of doing the same two English courses concurrently.  That'd shut 'em up pretty fast, no?

The other, and somewhat more disappointing thing that came out of the meeting is a little convoluted, but also pretty sad.  At the universities they are busy teaching all the student teachers and new teachers these lovely progressive educational ideas.  At the same time the Generalitat (provincial govt) holds the reigns of control so tight it cripples the schools ability to provide quality education for the kids in their care.

The first case of this was last year with the horrific math teacher and the endless round of hopeless substitutes which the school in question was powerless to alter.  An entire grade lost an entire year of math, that'd be about 150 kids with a poorer education because of bureaucratic inertia.

This year...evidence of a system-wide neglect of a large section of the students.  Here's what happens.  There is a program in place, 'atenció de la diversitat'.  You can probably make a good stab at that, attention to diversity.  This is not cultural diversity, but rather educational/skill diversity.  These programs are aimed at kids that are exceptional, either exceptionally troubled with their learning process, be that because of language issues as immigrants, learning problems or whatever....or they are exceptionally gifted, either because they are simply very bright, or like my kid, they happen to have an advantage, for instance being native speakers of a studied language.

Under this program, the school has the theoretical right to design any program they like to provide the child with the learning opportunities that they would best benefit by.  Like everywhere, this would be somewhat dependent on the dedication of the teacher in question (and I have to say that the base-line dedication level of teachers in NA is a different exponential order than here...honestly, the work they don't put in in this country.)  The real problem is, though, that the bureaucracy involved in producing one of these programs, and the fact that the inspector would have to come in and look it over means that the teachers are entirely unwilling to even consider providing this for a kid, or for kids in general.  The kids that are flunking everything get help, it is clear and evident that help is needed, but the bright kids?  How do you prove that they are capable of more unless you give them greater opportunity?

Left to rot or misbehave.

A shame.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hairdresser time.

This is something Einstein never factored in with his theories.

Hairdressers work on a TOTALLY different world of time.  I mean, they've invented their own physics.

Back story here, for about, oh, let's say, 10 years...the man has been cutting my hair.  He's pretty good.  Cuts it straight across the back.

Then a couple of months ago I went to the hairdresser here in our small town.  It was nice.  My hair looked nicer, a little less hippy.  It was pretty nice, I got to hang out, he's got this massage feature on the chair you sit in to get hour hair washed...and extensively conditioned in my case.  You can kind of zone out and try to avoid looking at yourself in the mirror.  Pretty relaxing and pleasant overall.  I can use my language skills as an excuse for not talking either.

That part is great.  The no chit chat part.

I went back again today.  Took only an hour and a quarter, which is pretty good for a wash, cut and dry.

On hairdresser time.


Monday, June 14, 2010

No laugh here.

I was watching this with Eldest.

At the end she asked if it was supposed to be funny.

No.  It's too true to be funny.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Picasso must have had someone to pick the ticks off his dogs for him.


Not sure what has happened here lately, but the ticks are beyond a joke.  I have taken more than 40 off Chuck today.  He didn't have any yesterday.


Ya know, that starts to take up some of your day.

Also reduces your time to paint.

Which sucks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New item on the life list

I have now, I kid you not, cut a lawn with scissors.

Feel like the British guy in Asterix and Obelix.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Heads up!

If you click that new design button on blogger, there's no going back to the old settings, just sayin'

Not sure I like the new look.

Not sure I have a choice.





More tomorrow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Village life

I've never lived in a village before, and as some of you may have noticed, there are aspects of it that I find strange.

This is one of them.

One of my students is also my co-worker and was my daughter's tutor as well.

One of my co-teachers, who is also becoming a friend, is also the current architect's business partner.

My current Catalan teacher, whose mother was my daughter's teacher, and who came with us to Canada a couple of years ago and who was also a student of mine is also very good friends with the fired and much disliked first architects daughter.

Lost yet?

This goes on and on and on and on and on.

The tricky part, I find, is figuring how to behave around folks.  We keep bending roles.  My current student, who is also a coworker and my daughter's tutor for example.  I have been teacher, student's parent, and co-worker all at different times, only now we are changing roles on a near moment to moment basis.


I am me, and I don't morph into other people, but living in a big city, your relationships with people are -aah - less dimensioned, or at least they change at a slightly slower pace.

Learning curve on this one too.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mourning my canvases.

I can say, for certain, that I am deeply grateful for the calm and reasonable way that today's meeting with the architect and foreman went.  Maybe cause the contractor wasn't there.  They have a provisional fix for the chimney, we'll try it again tomorrow at lunch and see what happens.  Also, everyone had done they're homework, even the somewhat passive resistant foreman.  They all came in with idea.

The other problem, with the bathroom vent emerging immediately beside the opening skylight in Eldest's room has also been solved.

Thank goodness.

I am, on the other hand, starting to fuss about my inability to get to my painting, I am simply far far too busy and far far too tired to get it all done.  Taught, actual contact hours today, for only 11 hours.  That does not count prep time (minimal) or the meeting at the house.

'Nother meeting with the foreman tomorrow at lunch.

Canvas not today day.

Boo hoo.

Three tomorrow!  Let's see if I swing it (not)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chimney woe

Pretty chimneys, no?  Don't you think they go with the style of the house?  They'll be covered at some point.  The problem is that they don't draw.  The one on the left is for the fireplace, and on the right is for the vent for the stove.  

We think they don't draw because the material they used to plug the chimney around the tubes, they laid it flat.  

Smoke doesn't draw well through a flat surface, I believe.  You can kind of see it in the photo below which was taken up the chimney.

Meeting tomorrow with the lot of them.  I am not looking forward to it in the least.

More than that, I am not looking forward to not having a fireplace.  I already don't have the bread oven.


Monday, June 7, 2010


This guy looks like his weekend wasn't so stressful.

He'd already eaten all of Youngest's lettuce and was moving onto my flowers!

Good thing he's cute.

Sunday, June 6, 2010



The weekend that wasn't.

Spent 6 hours yesterday re-doing a piece of crap translation that another person kinda did, and I ain't half way through yet.

Three hours + today

Then there was Eldest's homework, which was HUGELY epic.  She had to create a resume and a cover letter.  That is, as anyone who has looked for work knows, not a small job; and the first time you try?  Well that took a while.

Youngest has a mass of tests as well.

Most people start to slow down at this time of year.  My life definitely ramps RIGHT up.

The very very very good news is that my work for this summer is confirmed.  I start the day after I fly in.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

The report cards that never get sent

Dear parents,

Your child is an evil snaggle-toothed brat whom I hope never to have the misfortune of encountering again.  He is an obnoxious little squirt, vicious to the other children and forcing us all to endure one of the most virulent and offensive cases of verbal diarrea I have ever encountered in my not inconsiderable teaching career.

He is bullying and vindictive when winning and a violently poor sport when not.

Here's hoping that you move away to some other poor long-suffering teacher's purveu.

Kind regards, and have a great summer!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

New roof!

While I am on music and dancing, I thought you might like this one.  Librarians do Gaga.

Thought you also might like to have a look at the new beams/roof.

It isn't officially a roof yet as it doesn't have roofing tiles on the outside, but, it'll go a long long way to keeping the water out.

Not too bad anyway.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dancing Queen!

Hm, this I find a little frustrating.

One of my students asked me the other day if I like dancing, I have to admit that I am no longer sure.

Well, that simply isn't true.  I love it.

My problem is the males in my family.  The man?  He simply doesn't dance.  Discussion finished.

The other male?  That would be Chuck the dog who gets utterly hysterical if I dance.  HYSTERICAL. (why is that???)

It is a little, ahhh, inhibiting to have a dog barking and leaping around in complete panic/freak out mode when trying to enjoy a song.  I'm going to have to lock him away sometimes and do some more dancing. 

Gonna have to happen.

Especially now that I've got my -partial - list plus all those songs you've introduced me to and reminded me of!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I will honestly state that I am not the biggest music aficionado, not like the man. I actually don't like having music playing all the time, it starts to make me crazy.

There are times though.

The man, he likes to listen to depressing music.  Honestly.  There is some stuff he simply cannot play when I am home.  John Pryne is number one on that list in my mind.  I mean, honest to God, you write a song titled, "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes"?  Put my head in the oven now.  Holy jeez.

Then there are the days when I deliberately use music for mood management.  No?  There are just some songs that make me happy.  It is so magical.

Some of the latest happy songs I've been listening too, (some of this I find a mite embarrassing):

Walking on Sunshine,
Girls just want to have fun
Starry Eyed Surprise (dance all night to this dj) - I could listen to this over and over and over.
Party in the USA *ok, this is the cringe, but somehow...*
Dancing Queen
Hey Soul Sister
Ode to Joy
William Tell Overture with all the canons
Proclaimers, Walked a thousand miles
Hand in hand, Proclaimers
Anything with a great bass line - boom bah bah boom bah bah

What's your happy music?  You know, it gets you up out of your seat and dancing, and just basically, unreasonably, animal happy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Men, from a teens eye.

Eldest has concluded, after enduring a comment from a yob leaving a bar that:

There are three kinds of men.

Gays, who are the best.

Straight guys

and then there are

construction workers. *gag*