Monday, October 31, 2011


The Mona Lisa headdress for youngest:



Chuckster aka Valentino

Yep, he's teaching my girls about the nature of boys.

Seems there's a dog in heat in the village. He has taken to abandoning us mid-walk to go and hang out with this oh so willing, but distressingly tall girl.

I had to go back out with the man to catch him this morning, cause he was so delightfully engaged with some of the happier aspects of a doggy's life.  She followed us all the way home, tempting him, well offering him many, ah, opportunities.  It's an interesting way to walk a dog, that.

Since we have got him home, he has panted, drooled and spent the last 45 minutes smelling himself over and lasciviously licking at whatever part of his body he can still smell her on.  Feet, back, knees, forelegs....

A most satisfying morning, t'would seem.

Now all he needs is a nap.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lovely quiet Sunday.....

This is the second day of a four day weekend....a small slice of heaven indeed.

Today was spent basically hanging around together...though Youngest has abandoned us for a sleep-over at a friend's house.

The highlight of the day was the creation of Youngest's costume for the trick or treating tomorrow evening.  A tradition that is only just appearing here in the last couple of years.  We - the man and I - were a little hesitant about this.  The difficulty is that there is a Catalan tradition of the Castanyada on the same night, and the kids prefer Halloween....I have had some comments about folks who DO NOT LIKE Halloween starting up.

However, a group of Youngest's friends went out last year, and they are going out again this year.....would be strange if the only N American in the crowd didn't go....

So the costume.

She's going as the Mona Lisa, and it is turning out quite well.  We've used an old frame and glue gunned crinkly shiny gold wrapping paper to it, cut out a shape around her head from cardboard and painted that like the background in the painting.  Eldest is going to do her best to do the makeup, erasing eyebrows and eyelashes and giving an orange-green cast to her skin.

Good fun.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Finished this piece today, in that I mounted it and then the man and I hung it.....all good stuff and I am delighted to have it up!

Gotta love creative framing.  Saves so much money and adds so much interest.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Orphaned pumpkins

I meant to have a photo of the pumpkins we have, ready for Halloween....but I didn't get to that today.

Seems, however, that they are somewhat orphaned.  We bought one big one and five small, for the house and the two kids plus two friends and an extra to save and cook later, but instead of the small Halloween party we'd talked about seems they are going out trick or treating, what the local villagers will think of this I am not sure, though apparently some of them went last year and it was fine.

Good thing we all like pumpkin pie.  Seems we'll be eating a lot!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hmmm, I thought I'd posted

I don't seem to have been doing all that well this morning.  I went to bed COLD last night, woke up really early again (grrr) was cold this morning, all morning and I was moving like someone had put this record on too slow a speed....remember that?  Playing a 78 at 33rpm?  Yeah, that was me.

Came home and went to bed.  Thankfully didn't wake up sick, which is what I was worried about.  feeling much better now...though I am surprised I didn't post this morning, I thought I had.

Wonder what else I didn't do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What luck!

Seems I have evolved into both an early riser and a night owl.  Not something ultimately sustainable.

Hopefully this will resolve.

I've gotten a new toy lately, I am going to be online English courses (took three tries to type English....let's hope I do better in the videos) so I had to get some updated software.....nothing like four new programs simultaneously, not to mention the other programs I looked at and rejected.

I also got a funk little gadget called a 'Bamboo pen' which lets you write onto the computer with a pen jobbie...not something that is widely useful, but for making the courses, it can be pretty cool.

I'll show you a page of the course when I get there.  I can write rather more neatly when I'm not balancing the pad on my arm.......

Back to expanding/bending my brain around these programs...

Have a good one,


Monday, October 24, 2011

More completed paintings

Three more, I've been a busy girl, though today I've been struggling up a steep learning curve with some new computer stuff.......girl's gotta do a bit of everything it seems.

Number 2

I REALLY like this one, doesn't photograph well at all.

Ah well.

Hope you're having a good one,


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Painting and thinking

Honestly, this has been a LOVELY day.  I have painted and thought all day.  I have started and ended one entire painting, which is going to be tough to photograph, indeed I have two others as well that I finished the other day and several others underway....and it is such a lot of fun.

Also I have been thinking a lot about on line class curriculum design and the actual creation of courses which I am working at getting underway very quickly, as always, the man and I have a few tricks up our sleeves that we're thinking about.  Going to keep that quiet for now till we get things a little more solidified......

All good stuff, on the whole.  Creative and constructive and interesting.

More photos tomorrow....cause I'm just having a blast over here.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Can I go to mass?

Youngest the other day, after playing with buddies in the street, came home with a friend in tow.

She wanted to have her friend over for a couple of hours and after that could they please go to church.  Mass.


I guess so.

Not like they're asking if they can go to a bar or something.

Seems a bunch of their friends were doing confirmation, and that's where they were all going to be, so why not?


Judging by the comments when she returned, I don't think she's joining up anytime soon.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Recent work

More in the pipe, but here's some:

First two done on cardboard....which bears more investigation in fact.

Part of the immigration series:


And this one got hung:

I've finished some more that I can't show you till it's hung, and there are more pieces in the fun fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paint without process in mind

I have been painting away, and feeling that I am not getting anything done.  Which is odd, cause I am actually producing quite a lot of work....Photos to's getting late.

There is a common theme of lines going through much of the work, which is interesting me at the moment, though I have to confess that I haven't a clue why.  Really, I just am really liking horizontal lines, so I'm painting lots of them.  Trying to figure out what this is all about, but for now, I'm having fun running with it.

As an aside, the Golden Acrylic's website is an absolute gold mine (jejeje) of information about paint and how to manipulate it. Honestly, more there than you could possibly imagine.  Like this paint guide and this colour mixing guide.  Honestly, just the beginnings.  Yeah, there is a certain amount of marketing to it, but the information provided is amazing.

Anyway, for now I seem to be painting for the sake of painting, which feels weird a bit after the run last year with the immigration series which had a feeling/comment/something to say about I seem to be messing with the medium while waiting for the message.  That said, there are some cool bits coming out of it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bites my bias

I try not to be too biased here, or too offened and try to be fairly neutral, or open minded, or cynical or questioning, I guess they're all the same thing depending on how you look at it.

The Catalans here go on about the fact that kids in other parts of Spain can access a computer during primary or secondary school, either free or heavily subsidised through the school system.  This is not available here in Catalunya, if the parents want to get a computer, they have to cough up.  100%.

I kinda didn't believe this, until pickle, who has just moved to to a pueblo (village) in Southern Spain, mentioned in passing that she was filling in the grant applications to get computers from her kid's primary schools.

Now, Catalunya is, in Spanish finances, a have province, as in they have a fair amount of power, and pay in more taxes to the National system than they get back.  I don't have a problem with this in principle, I come from Ontario in Canada, another province that puts more into the system than it gets out.  I think that all kids in Canada and Spain should get equal access to health care, schooling, good roads yadda yadda yadda.

But that's just it, it should be equal.

Our kids don't get free computers.  Yet we pay more taxes.

No wonder the Catalans get pissed.  I'm pissed too.  No one's buying my kid's computers but me, myself and I...well, and the man of course.

Anyone know if this is true for other parts of Spain?  Kate?

There are also strong rumours  - as of yet not personally verified, that the pensions here are also lower than in other parts of Spain.  That bites too, if it's true.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Me:  Blathering on and on and on

Youngest (picking up on a word I was yattering on about):  Mom, what does biased mean?

Eldest:  You've got two butts.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Kim's cards

Look what Bodhi sent me!!!!

Beautiful, no?  I think those are her eyes in the bottom one.....

Making me think of putting some posters together too....hmmmm......

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The man didn't quite get shot

This post, I find, I have been putting off.

You'll see why.

I'll start us off by saying that everyone is fine.

The man went off on Wednesday morning to walk the dog.  Here Wednesday was an official holiday and therefore (damnit) a legal hunting day.  I am starting to hate hunters on a personal level I may add.

Anyway, he and Chuck went off, Chuck sporting a bell and the man a bright red Habs t-shirt.

He got up into the hills, about 10 meters from a finca (a cross between a cottage and a very small farm), the dog had been let off leash just a minute or so before, when a gun goes off really really really close to him and then he is hit in the back by either some dirt or a shot (bird shot I should add). Doesn't hurt him, just like its been thrown at him hard.

Not happy.

A certain amount of obscenities ring out from my darling husband - and I have to say that I heard the shot from in the house and it was FREAKING CLOSE to the village.

He stood still and silent for a loooooooooooooong time hoping that the guy would move so he could beat him senseless talk to him, but (no surprise) the guy was pretty motivated to stay vewy vewy still.

Went to the police when he got home, as suspected, it is illegal to hunt within 500 meters - that's half a kilometer as a wee reminder- of any building or house, and (duh) you can't shoot across a road.  Both of these were violated.

The cops couldn't do anything really, the guy would have taken off and certainly wasn't going to confess to it....they did, at our request do some patrols of the area so the guy might see that we had gone to the cops, but really, there was nothing we could do.

Some people, you know?  You really have to wonder.

So there's the story.  Can you see why I kinda didn't want to tell it?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Well, I'm four posts behind

Really, I missed yesterday, I was WAY too tired and cranky to be allowed to open my mouth and so I put myself to bed.

Meanwhile, the world has been enormously bloggable.

So, I've bot three posts lined up, and I just got hijacked by the chuckster, again.

He came up to the alter to join me and a bowl of popcorn for a favourite game of catch...and well, chew too.

Mid-game he suddenly noticed something that had been up here for a bit.  A sweet little siamese cat on the terrace, maybe she'd been following someone's lead and wandering the tiles......

Chuck, loather of all things feline that he is, exploded into rage.  Bristling hackles raised fury.  The cat arched like your stereotypical halloween cat, and then stalked off.

Chuck, brave guard dog that he is, stood firmly on guard lest any further incursions should occur, stoutly refusing the temptation of popcorn.

Then he fell asleep.

Now he's snoring.

I would just like you all to be assured that we are very safe here.

Thanks for your concern,


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not a stupid dog...well maybe, yes a stupid dog.

Chuck has had the runs, a few too many bones yesterday at lunch meant that we had to go for a walk this morning at 5am.  For 45 minutes

OK, whatever.

The man then took the dog for a long walk in the hills, and we figured that he would have, ah, passed most of the problems.

Then I was lying in bed and his Chuckiness comes in and whines at me.  I ignore him, figuring that the man is downstairs, if he needed to go out he would have stood by the door.  Chuck goes up into the alter upstairs.  Fine.  Then I hear something walking over the roof above my head.  Honestly, this is a LONG way up that roof, a good 50 feet.

I lay there for a while trying to figure what I'm hearing, and's the biggest frickin bird I've ever heard.  I go up to the alter.

Guess who I see on the roof of the neighbours house!

You've got to understand that all the roofs are connected with drops up and down between them.

I'm a little nervous and call for the man, who comes up, both of us not able to do much except call the dog.  Walking on these old tiles can break them and there are REALLY long drops off the roofs, and not onto lawns.

Then the Chuckster takes a dump on a neighbour's roof.

I kid you not.

Had a crap, right out there in plein air.

I cannot think that all that many dogs have done that.  Hope it had some viscosity to it!

OMG, oh, and we did not stoop climb and scoop.

We called him back again, he didn't really come, so I headed off for some salami.  He came back, again over the neighbour's roof......CRAZY!

Now we have to keep the door to the terrace closed all the time, and we may have to get a damn baby gate.

Dog's too smart, or as Eldest put it, he's taken up a new extreme sport.  Parkour pooping.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Save a book?

Has anyone read and loved Margaret Drabble's The Gates of Ivory (better named the gates of snobbery)?

I am bogged down in it, I loved the Peppered Moth, but this?  It's like going to an enormous pretentious cocktail party and you're deaf-blind.  Honestly, a million characters appear with no context and little description.  No sense of the characters emerges, then they disappear, only to reappear later - name-dropping.


If someone pipes up and says it was the best book they'd ever read, maybe I'll plow onward, but honestly, this is horrrrrrrrid.

Getting tired of wondering who the heck is Richard...and Liz and Hettie and Alix (can't remember the gender of that one, and and and and ....who ARE these people?  Who cares?

Nomad, a response

Well Nomad, my response was so long they wouldn't let me post it as a comment, so here it is as a post.......for the rest of you, she and I have been exchanging comments left on the lying post and here I go:

Nomad, I think you're right, some of this confusion we're having is a linguistic issue, because from what I am seeing there are three different topics we're discussing and we're calling all of them lying.

1.The neurological juggling that goes on inside of our heads, largely unconsciously, when different parts of our brain are messing with other parts.  And we do lie to ourselves that way all the time, everyone does, it has mostly been below the radar until more modern neurological study techniques have emerged.  I'll try to find a reference to the books I have been reading about this.  Is this lying or the internal functioning of our brains?  Let's not call it lying, let's call it the weird quirks of our internal system. (see references below)

2. We have labelling, which is, clearly, a level of lying; in that it is a shallow rapid assessment of a single narrow aspect of a person's being and the subsequent attribution to the entire fascinating depths of them of that one finite aspect and letting it go at that.  We are both, without a doubt, willing to say that this is not a good thing.  Yet, we as humans, especially as adults, label things for  the sake of speed and efficiency.  We cannot function while going down the street at the pace of a one year old studying with awe and amazement every pebble and blade of grass that we see, marvelling at it's individual beauty (though I believe that artists have to begin to reattach to this ability).  We must be more efficient.  Weirdly there have been studies that people in messier and more chaotic environments are more racist.  This is pertinent because, when stressed and forced to function in an environment that demands more of our brain to negociate, we (unknowingly) broaden our categories of labels and apply them more often and more strongly in order to stream-line what we have to do in any given moment.  Sadly, we also err on the side of negativity, (hence racism as opposed to something positive) as it was better for our ancestors to assume that an unknown something lurking in the bushes might eat/attack them, and was therefore bad/dangerous that to err on the side of positive fluffyness and assume that it means us well.

When I say I lie to mysef, esp when teaching, working with someone I find dislikable (to invent a word), a lot of what I am doing is resisting the labelling, consciously pointing out to myself the positives, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness.  But, esp as a teacher, I am there to get these people through the class, happy, energised and with a larger body of knowledge....and that's hard to achieve if I am dwelling on their loathsomeness (normally a gross exaggeration).

3. I think we have outright lying, as in not telling the truth and generally being a dishonest person.  Do I never ever lie?  No.  I lie.  Sometimes.  I will boldly lie in the face of irrational and vengeful bureaucracy if it is expedient.  I will tell lies to save people's feelings - so called white lies.  I will lie in defence of my kids or myself, ie. someone wants them to go somewhere or do something and I'm not thrilled about it, I'll lie and say they have too much homework or whatever.....Lying, to me, is a necessary part of social interaction.  We cannot always tell the truth and still interact with people in a kind way.
I suppose that for me, at bottom, with this type of lying, kindness is the baseline.  With the irrational orwell-esqe bureaucrat, it is just getting the heck out of there (kindness to myself).  Socially necessary lying - generally kindness to others.   For getting myself and others out of things unwanted social interactions?  Kindness to my kids or family before kindness to others.  When one has to chose, who would I prefer to be kind to?

You mention focussing on the payoffs when dealing with an unpleasant situation.  Yeah, I have the same concept, I tend to use cost/risk - benefit analysis, but I think it is ultimately the same thing. Is it worth it to put up with a n unpleasant activity in order to achieve a desired goal...yes or no.  Sometimes no isn't an option though and we simply have to put up.  This is when I begin to lie to myself again. I've got to get through this, come what may and preferably without going MAD, so I work at convincing myself that there are good things, that there is depth, that the person is indeed likeable.  I know I am lying to myself, I know why I am doing it, but it does make it more bearable.  Sort of like when you get up in the middle of the night and deliberately try to move around like a zombie to make it easier to get back to works, but it's a trick you're playing on yourself.

Bringing us to your shitty prof, bailing out of the course is, presumably, not a choice if you want to graduate, so there's your cost benefit done for you.... and no, from your description you aren't lying to yourself, you are being very honest.  When it comes to individual opinion, I think the truth is very subjective, what my rub you WAY the wrong way may be no issue whatsoever for other folks....that's just reality.  What I find interesting is when I find myself unconsciously willing myself into another opinion of someone to get through....though I am INFINITELY less tolerant of shitty teachers than unpleasant kids.  Sorry, they're being paid for this, it is their JOB and they had better pull their shit together and yesterday.  It is their JOB to leave their issues at the door, they are grown-ups and they'd better get on with it, now.  In a professional manner thankyouverymuch. Maybe it comes from being in the trade.  I'm with you, I'd try to focus on what I can get out of the class, keep my head down and try not to bust my teeth grinding them down to the raw and bleeding gums.


References:  Jonah Lehrer at Wired magazine, always fascinating

Jonah Lehrer, How we Decide

Jonah Lehrer Proust was a Neuroscientist (particularily fascinating as it looks at the relationship between great artist's work and neuroscience.  FABULOUS)

Robert A Burton, MD, On Being Certain: Believing you are right even when you're not.

V.S:. Ramchandran A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness.  Very good, but super irritating read.

Lisa Genova, Left Neglected.  A novel by a neuroscientists that discusses a type of brain injury where the entire left side of the body, and indeed the world is, well, forgotten by the brain.  The brain then spends quite a bit of time creating reasons for all the strange things that then result, ie, lying to itself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

hanging paintings

We are finally getting around to hanging some of the bigger paintings in the living room.  Two problems emerge, first, how to hang them, cause when a painting is 7' by 7' framing gets prohibitively expensive very fast.  Some creativity is required........unstretched paper with no backing.  Another that is made up of 35 sheets of A4 paper, 2 A3 and one little one........  and then one that has to be framed on something big enough to straddle the 1.5" deep thermostat.

When that's done, and those three are hung, we need to decide what to hang on the fourth wall.  This one is the most visible from the street, so I am concerned about which goes up as EVERYONE will see it, which also means it has to be a picture that will carry well, that will look sensible from a distance as well as up close on the way up the stairs.  Alongside this,  we have to look at what else there is in the room, see which painting will work and which would be horrid.  I am thinking of some kind of hanging system so we could easily shift the paintings around as we saw fit, create a mini exhibition space with rotating works.  Means I could also hang ones I need to think about with some distance to look at

We're working on this.

Photos as they get hung.

Friday, October 7, 2011


we lie to ourselves.  A lot.  There is a whole mass of neuropsychology behind it, if you find it fascinating, you may want to look at some of Jonah Lehrer's (books and his column/blog at Wired) work as being particularly relevant.  One of the most striking examples of how we do this unknowingly comes from people with a specific neurological deficit, wherein the bridge between the two sides of the brain is cut leaving parts of your brain unaware of what is happening on the opposite side of your body....I believe this also occurs with another disorder where they lose contact with one side of their body, as in they don't know it exists.

The basic premise is that the 'unknown' side is shown a comic, of something funny, and when the person laughs at it, they are then asked what they were laughing at.  They answer, and often believe their answer.

I will openly confess that my science on this is, to say the least, wobbly, but it is 7am and I'm not going to wake the household on a Sat morning in search of proper references.

What I find more interesting, at the moment, is when I find myself lying to myself somewhat consciously in order to either improve a situation or to be happier.  The example that got me thinking about this is when I am teaching a person who I do not find, ah, totally charming shall we say.  I am doomed lucky to spend an entire year with them, and I had better, indeed it is my JOB, to find a way to make this a good experience for that person, however I may feel about them.

So, I lie to myself.  I spend quite a bit of time quashing more negative thoughts, denying negative opinions and focusing on and emphasising the positive, sometimes to the point of silliness, to the point where I can here myself convincing myself that I like this person.

It never works completely if the person is truly disagreeable, at the end of the year when I stop working at it, it washes away quite quickly, but sometimes I do find that I end up actually liking the person more than I would have thought....

I find it is something that I do, and that I suspect many people do.  We work at convincing ourselves, sometimes with outright lies, that things aren't what they seem.  Fortunately, I tend to try to improve things, though there are certainly people, and I know some, who dedicate enormous amounts of time to deciding, and convincing themselves, that things are worse than they seem.

It is a useful tool, and one I find more interesting when I find myself doing this quite deliberately.  (Sounds like there's about 3 of me there doesn't it.  The poor vulnerable me being convinced, the conniving liar doing the dirty deed, and another me watching it all in bemusement)   Then when I get thinking about it, I can come up with other times that this has come into play, apartments that were less than wonderful but moving isn't really such an option, courses that were less than wonderful, but which have to be finished.  Colleagues who are a wee bit problematic, so to speak.....

I don't think I'm alone out here, but I do find it fascinating.


Spent several hours this morning working on a painting idea I have.....let's see how it plays out.  I will post more when I have it finished.....

I forgot to post yesterday...that's weird, and tonight I am so sleepy I am lying sideways in bed and typing, not so easy and I'm making many many mistakes...

Things I've been thinking about:  How we lie to ourselves.

Ways to put together this painting I'm working on

Ohhh, there was another title/topic but it escapes me at the moment, such is life.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's odd, isn't it

Today in many ways could have gone down the toilet, I don't really want to get into it all, several different fairly to really irritating things went on, but as I sit down to write in the blog, that just isn't how I feel about the day.

Other days, well, it all goes well, but still you pass the day like someone peed in your cornflakes.....

Odd, isn't it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Something I have to translate

You see, the Catalans I know have a deep and abiding love affair with the pendrive.

Aside from the fact that they are expensive, get lost and get put through the washing machine, my real issue with them is this.


Monday, October 3, 2011

On the wildlife note, here's some Catalan wildlife

Saw this little guy, and a buddy, this evening!

Looks like he's planning on spending the night head down, no?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

On line art courses

I have taken a few online art courses, not many, but a few.  Mostly to get myself kick started, or to pick up a new technique.  I have gone on one week art courses in London, which was very very cool, but I have to say, for the sheer bang for buck, no that's not even fair, simply I am taking an absolutely brilliant course, and I have to share.

It is offered by MOMA, yeah, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and the course instructor is an artist and a conservator of modern paintings, as in he repairs and maintains the ones at MOMA.

There is SO much information provided and at such a high level I am blown away.  There are at least 20 hours of video (I think more, I'm only part way through) divided between art history and studio technique.  From the basics of how to stretch canvas, what makes up paint, how to play with it, and the techniques of 8 of the NY Abstract Expressionists, who if nothing else, pushed the boundaries for what you can do with paint.

It's a little pricey, $US 200, (less if you're a student or teacher) but I've paid half that for a WHOLE lot less.  There are specific tasks for the students to do in their studios to practice some of the techniques.  If you want to pay twice as much you can email back and forth and do chats and forums and send in work for evaluation with the instructor...I didn't feel like it and it is TWICE as much......ooops, sorry, I'm too late, the guided option is sold out, but you can still do the self-directed, find it here:  Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting, Self directed.

I'm a big girl now, I can play on my own, but this resource, I SO had to share.  Three thumbs up.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Granotes in Catalan - Ranas in Spanish

ElPadawan saw frogs on his vacations this summer, and so did we!  Being Canada we also saw some other wildlife, the man most of all when he was hiking without either (noisy) kids or (potentially dangerous) Chuck - those deer so don't recognize a wimp when they see one.  He even saw a Massassauga Rattler...he didn't step on it.  But, he didn't have the camera....

So here I present you with....

FROG photos!!!

OK, so I tossed a loon in there too, what the heck.