Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We knew

But oh my goodness this week is Looooooooooong

Fortunately we are coming into a very long long long weekend.  In Catalan, a long weekend is called a pont, or a bridge.  This one is more like an aqueduct..... a super-pont.  We have a six day weekend coming up, then we go to work and school on Friday, and then another weekend rolls around.

I love living here.

Have I mentioned that before?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I had a post in mind....

now I mostly have sleep in mind, so you get more photos.....

First up, the alps from the plane:

A Toronto river on a warm Nov day:

Fall leaves in High Park:

A detail from Zurich:

Monday, November 28, 2011

See if you can guess this place

We had a 7 hour (deliberate) layover in this city, and ran in for a half-zombified wonderful wander around in the beautiful sunshine....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Note to self

If I ever visit the Ontario Science Center again and it is packed out with school groups in the entryway, I will immediately turn around and leave.  It will not improve.

This is not to say that I did not enjoy my time with my sister, nephews and brother in law, but it might have been more fun and a lot easier on the nerves and ears if we had gone to High Park and the Adventure playground instead. 

We did indeed go to High Park after a quick trip to Timmy's, lay in the sunshine, drank mocha, coffee and icecaps respectively alongside a few timbits and it was WONDERFUL....walked home in the beautiful fall weather.

Lovely lovely lovely.  Kids got on brilliantly, and a beautiful day....though my ears felt pressurised, like I'd been flying by the time we left.  Oh the noise.


Chagall exhibit?  Awesome.  Sometimes a painting just GRABS you.  Then if you're lucky, there's another.  We were lucky.

Stomping our favourite stomping grounds.....favourite restaurants........

Seeing family.

Not sleeping NEARLY enough.

Missing Chuck.

My nephews are in town, so more fun to be had.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

barely time to breathe let alone post

Dr says my optic nerves are nasty, not a surprise, and I've another visit scheduled for June to keep an eye on them (heh heh heh)

Family is all in town and more arriving, my sister and her kids and husband, my folks, my great aunt, us, my Dad's cousin, distant relatives on my Mom's side, went out to see my uncle and aunt today......just a whole big mass of family that doesn't happen all that often for us.


The days are packed, and packed with fun.

Today in our travels we went to see an old steam engine pump, that was seriously neat.  Built in the 18somethings, and it still goes today if they pump it out.  Then we also went to the Hamilton War Plane museum...that was cool, my Uncle and my Dad's cousin know a lot about planes, and I have to go back with the man and my Dad who know a ton too......

Next summer.

Good fun.  Hope you're all doing well out there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

We're in TO

Yes indeed...To it is for a week....celebrating a family member's 100th no less. 

So, yesterday a big breakfast, a good skate, we got new shoes for Youngest and the man, got groceries and I went to some alternative dance last night.  All in bed by 7:30 pm and up at 5am, trying not to get TOOOOO far around on the jet lag so we function better when we get back in Spain.

This morning I called out to the girls asking if they wanted to go walk the dog.  They both said that yes, they would.  A minute or two later they realised that his Chuckiness isn't with us.  So we walked an imaginary dog instead.  There are a lovely group of dog walkers I meet every morning in the summer and they are still here in the winter off we went.  Stopping at some poles for Chuck to pee and throwing some pinecones too.  Eldest even wore here clown nose for the event....we were getting on the subway yesterday, unaware that it was the Santa Claus parade, and if you bought a clown nose kids rode the kids had to wear them on the subway, they were totally game, and Eldest had hers in her pocket this morning.  Kept her nose warmer! 

I think I'm still cold from that walk.  It's nicer out there at 6am in July, I must say.  Today: visits, banks, schools, phones and drs.

Go big or go home!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We all woke up super hungry.,.....very very very hungry at 7am.

We went out for breakfast.  I had a steak, 3 eggs, hashbrowns and dark rye toast with a big big glass of OJ.  The girls had gigantic waffles with whipped cream, strawberries, strawberry jam, butter and syrop, then some.  We bought olive bread, challah, and cheese buns on the way home. 

We're going skating in a few minutes.

Can you guess where we are?  It ain't Catalunya, I can tell you that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gerhard Richter exhibit

Went to the Tate Modern on the weekend in London, and I have to say it was marvelous.

I went to another Richter exhibit at the National Portrait gallery back in 2009 with Nomad, and I was left a little cold.  There is no doubt that he is an absolutely masterful painter; however the majority of his work in that exhibit was figurative and honestly left me rather cold.  Some of the work was in and of itself quite cold and deliberately so.

Then I discovered that he does abstracts, and he does abstracts that I LOVE....LOVE LOVE LOVE.......

So when I found out about this exhibit I was quite excited and we went and it was marvelous.

My favourites of his works are the 'squeegy paintings' where he uses large reenforced sheets of plexiglass to apply gobs of paints in layers over the works, many of which are enormous....and beautiful.

We weren't allowed to take photos in main exhibition, but the Tate Modern has a series of 6 large paintings called the Cage series, after John Cage the composer who Richter was listening to as he worked on them and these were on display in a separate section that allowed photography without a flash.


A detail:

Some more detail:

and more:

Oh, it would be lovely to have the money to splash that much paint around.

Look at the layers and intricacy.....that's all over the painting.  What a treat.

A couple of random people in the gallery to give you some idea of the size of these things.

Should you get the chance to see his work anywhere....GO!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

language challenges

One of the difficult bits of learning Catalan, well I imagine any language with gendered nouns, is not only remembering them, which is hard enough, but sometimes they don't seem to make sense.

Eggs for instance are masculine in Catalan.  I cannot think of anything that is more profoundly feminine than an egg, but there it is.

I got a good laugh today, and so did my co-workers, because the word for an arm is masculine, but I cannot get myself to call it, 'el meu braç' that would be a masculine article, el, followed by a masculine possessive adjective, meu, followed by an arm.

Let me tell you, I am a woman, so it seems to me that my arm would be female too.  In fact it is, right down to the DNA....and it isn't a 17" pipe for that matter either.  Distinctly female looking but masculine it is.

Maybe I should take up weights again and I'll get my head around the idea.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The economy

I read today about a brilliant idea that congress has to pass legislation to shut down any internet site that hosts copyrighted material.  Nice.

The US apparently really does want to re-enter the dark ages.  Creationist, the tea party, Palin, economic self-destruction and this display of truly and overwhelmingly antiquated ideology.  Hmmm, some folks criticize China around it's internet policy, no?  Wonder how much the congressmen and women were paid for this?

You hear people going on and on and on about the economy.  About how the majority of these problems have been brought about by a few handfuls of men.  Hmmm, seems none of them need prosecution.  Yet, you know, when my daughter tells me that here, in this village, in her school, there is a family trying to get by on 27 Euros a month after they pay for rent, I wonder why that is.

When my own children are affected by this economic downturn - nice euphemism for an almighty fuck up, no -  it makes me angry.

When I go by occupy London, and it is so pathetic, I am saddened.  Honestly, there is hypocrisy there, I too should be out occupying Barcelona, because if we all did, maybe they'd listen.  Or not.

But I have to make a living.  I don't have the ability to go out and sit in a square and not earn anything.  I have to work.  So what's to do?

The news media can be so inflammatory, to the point of creating difficulties...I read a piece today where they stated that many southern Europeans are withdrawing their money from local banks, as in Spanish, Italian etc...banks and investing further north.  Can this help?  Is this true?  Is it another case of the rich (oh I sound SO Marxist) getting their money out and safe and the rest are left to swing?

Feeling a mite bitter this evening and more than a little worried.

Why have there been no trials about the hacking in the UK?  Why have none of these financial types been brought to court outside of Iceland?  Why can the entertainment industry buy congress to pass a bill that is so completely unenforceable and ridiculous when something meaningful really should be done?

You don't know what to this just another recession and things will pick up as they always do?  You know that economic theory about things going in cycles; or is this a sign of a busted system.  A system invested in the near future with no vision for further along, a system where petty crime is vigorously prosecuted, but the crime of creating global want is just fine?

Shouldn't there be some kind of international economic crimes tribunal?  I'd pay tax dollars for that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sorry for the gap there

but you see, I was away.  Let's see if you can guess where!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This is novel

I was hoping against hope that I would have a backlogged post I could use, I am so very tired this evening......and I do!  This was written on Monday morning I think.  I feel like the posts have been a bit lame of late, sorry about is taking up a lot of my attention and leaving me pretty wiped at the end of the day.

Long walk tomorrow!  YEAH!

I cannot remember the last time I was at home all by myself.  Well, aside from Chuck the howling lovelorn.

It is odd, and quiet and strange.

With the man out of work, he is home a lot, which has been an utter delight.  Definitely the upside to the whole thing, but this morning he has started some kind of computer course and he is off to that every morning this week.  We'll sign him up for Spanish in the new year as well.

Back to the point though.

I have been painting this morning (really freaking awfully, but still, it's good).  Reading, just fine there.

Hanging out.

It feels odd, and feels odd that it feels odd, if you can understand that.

We have sunshine again too, which I can only be gleeful about.  I shouldn't whine about rain, but we've had enough.  For me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mixed? Nah, mostly good

Hmm, Chuck is on day 5 of howling and whining.  How long can that dog stay in heat?  She keeps swinging by the house to keep his hopes up too.

We had lunch outside today in the that was a pleasure and nine tenths.  The nap after lunch, that was the final tenth.

Man, the economy here may SUCK, but they've got a great lunchtime routine.  Nice and long, come home with the family, eat well together and then a nap before going back to work.

There's a sensible way to tackle the middle of the day.

Oh, and the morning?  That was pretty darned good too.  Went into BCN on my own, went and got some tea, had a lovely walk in the sunshine and went to MACBA, the modern art museum.

I have to say.  Video installations as art leave me c.o.l.d. cold.  Ho hum.

Some sculpture, fine.  Big installations, as in room installations, I am SO there with you.  Ultimately though, painting is what makes my fiddle sing.  There were some decent Barcelós, a Basquait, and a painting by an artist whose name escapes me, but whose work was very cool.  Oh, and a Gerhart of his abstracts which I really like.  Some of his pieces, meh, not so much, but the abstracts are really something to write home about.

Gotta say, overall, a pretty darned good day.

Hope yours was good too.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memory is a weird thing

Something I noticed this morning when I was out walking the dog.  I was listening to a podcast that I had listened to the day before when walking the dog and I was trying to skip through it to get to the ending of the show which I hadn't heard.  As I scrollled through, listening to the fragments of the show, I could remember exactly where I had been in the walk the day before when I had listened to each section.  Exactly where I was.

I could not, however, remember what I was listening to at any given point of the walk.  If I thought about being at a particular corner I was entirely unable to conjure even the faintest idea of what I had heard, but with the story, instantly and effortlessly I knew.

Weird, eh?

Memory of place could be accessed by story, but not story by place.

Our minds are a baffling place.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chuck is tiiiiired.

You see, he was out with me for a walk when he met up with his girlfriend again, indeed she came and found him, much to their mutual delight.

Once I got him inside, and left her out, which took a little doing, he set up to howl.  And howl, and howl and howl.

Indeed, he has howled or whined on and off, and mostly on, for the entire day.

That is a lie, he took a break from it when I had a nap and had a nap too; and then started off again.

Very tired puppy this evening (thankfully).

We looked up how long her attractions would last.  Looking like a bit of a long haul for us all.


Friday, November 4, 2011


It seems such a generic basic kinda thing.  White, usually cold.  Basic a staple.  Unchanging.

Then we got here and started buying different brands of milk.

This shouldn't be a surprise in fact.  I know that milks change their flavours depending on what the milk producer is eating at that time, be they bovine or otherwise.   What is really interesting here is that the milk producers are sufficiently small, and local, that the different brands actually have different flavours.

Our personal favourite is ATO, though the Condis brand is fine.  I have to say that the Condis brand (a Catalan? chain of supermarkets owned in Angola the man says) is a big enough buyer that the milk basically has that ubiquitous milk taste, but the other smaller brands?  ATO lists 7 dairy farmers that supply them with their milk.  Seven.  Now I am not naïve enough to really believe that these 7 farmers are small farms, they must have hundreds of cattle each, but the reality is that the milk has a distinctive flavour.  Another brand, Pasqual, has a different flavour again, one that Youngest can. not. stand.  She won't drink it.  This is a much bigger company than ATO, and the flavour is quite different.

Interesting.  I think anyway.

I've never noticed flavour differences in milk in Canada.  Ever.  We once had fresh milk on a farm in Germany, it may have been unpasturized straight from the cow, I was too young to remember, but I do remember it tasting quite different, but that may have also been because it was also full fat milk and we normally had 2%.

My poor kids live on skimmed, and are basically happy, but MUCH prefer the fattier milk.

I also have some suspicions that skimmed milk here is not as skimmed as Canadian skimmed, no blueish overtones and you can get a milk mustache.  I wonder if the different brands have different fat levels too.

Hmmm, something to look into.  I know we once got some milk that had olive oil added to it.  Seems weird, no?  Very different taste there, I can tell you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


In no event, even if we are negligent, will we be liable for any loss of data, or any indirect, consequential, special, aggravated, punitive or exemplary damages whatsoever, in whole or in part, (including any business interruption, loss of profits, data, information, opportunity, revenues, goodwill or any other commercial or economic loss), caused to you, regardless of the cause of action, even if we have been advised of the possibility of such damages

Found this in part of the forms from my bank.  Good lord, no?

Wish I could get people to agree to something like this.

Seems a weeeee bit cheeky to me, no?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sometimes, it's amazing what's interesting

I am something of a podcast junkie.

I listened initially for two reasons, one, to maintain my English, I know that sounds odd, but when you only ever speak to your family, your level, and specifically, your vocabulary starts to diminish.  I used to find myself back in Canada struggling to come up with words for things.  So, in came the podcasts to prevent this impoverishment.

Later I have done much the same thing in Catalan.  I listen to increase vocab and keep my ear tunes, particularly in Canada in the summer, but year round too.

Then it turns out there are some AMAZING podcasts out there.

There are a lot that I know I will like, cause they are on topics I am interested in, such as A Way with Words, which Beth introduced me too, and some of the book podcasts, such as the Guardian book podcast and The Next Chapter from the CBC, there are some that I listen to when I can't sleep, they are just that right balance of charm, peace and interest that they stop the churning mind, my two best for this are Coast and Country and Scotland Outdoors, both from the BBC.

Then there are some that I have found that are simply brilliant, well, one in particular, WNYC Radiolab...I've sung their praises before.

Then there are some that seem so unlikely.  This one was the inspiration for this post.  Wired magazine, which I am coming to adore, has a podcast they call Storyboard (though if you read this though, finding podcasts on your site is WAY too difficult) and particularly, this show was riveting.    It's all about how whiskey is made.....not something that really interests me at all as I don't drink, but there is something about a person who is passionate about a topic that I find endlessly interesting, and something about curiosity that I adore, and the guy who hosts the show is nothing if not curious, and then there is the geekiness of it all....and it is geeky, but there is something about that sort of geeky impulse that is compelling too.  I am probably not marketing this sucker well, but it was fabulous.

I do love it when you find yourself drawn into a show or an individual program that you would otherwise not have the least interest in.  Lovely.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chuck's girlfriend comes a calling!

Wondering if Chuck could come and ahhhh play.

Chuck was ready for a little sport.

We were mean and didn't let him out.  Indeed we closed the outer door eventually.  You know, no soliciting.