Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Casa Batlló

I'd never gone.  It's a house by Gaudí in BCN that we had never ever visited, cause it is so expensive to get into!  Well, prices have gone up on most museums, but as I was saving it to visit when friends want to go....Monday was my day!  We had a bunch of friends in BCN who wanted to see it....and I was so glad.

There is a 5 Euro discount if you are from BCN, so I was trying to talk them into one point I even pointed out to them that I was speaking CATALAN....c'mon, cut me some slack...I've learned the damned language, that ought to be worth a 5 Euro discount, no?

They thought so...after I showed them my library card so they could see I was at least from nearby!

In we went.  As always, with Gaudí, it was spectacular. 

Here, I'll show you:

Lovely, no?

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I have recently met two people who left me kind of amazed.

They are both in the 19 - 22 range.  Both studying.

One, wants to be a translator, she said.  She copies everything in class, never does the exercises and never speaks anything but her own native language (not even the other language here - Catalan).  She has, at best, about 40 years before she masters another language.  A translator. Cause they make so much money, she said.  I'm not sure which of those delusions is the greater.  Unless she meant a simultaneous translator.  They do make decent coin, but purportedly go bonkers after about a decade -  decade and a half.

The other?  Going to school to be a personal trainer.  He smokes.  A lot.   He does no sports.   At. All.  Played some football as a kid, and used to skateboard.  


This sounds very negative, and I am really questioning posting it, cause I feel kinda mean explaining this.  But, honestly, I don't understand their view of the world, how they think this will work? 

I am...mystified. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


A gestor is someone who helps you work your way through bureaucracy.  A country that has an entire field of work dedicated to dealing with bureaucracy is a bad sign.  They also do more mundane thing, like your taxes, but frankly, it is so complicated here that this can be a not small thing too.

Debate has gone on in my life about working with a contract, becoming officially self-employed, or continuing to work for at least a portion of my pay *ahem* in an alternative market.

I went to talk to the gestor about what would be involved in being self-employed (which incidentally costs over 200€ a month and confers no benifits).  Here's what I found out.
  •  It'll cost me 40€ just to talk to the lady about the process
  •  I will have to pay the monthly 200€ plus fee
  •  I will have to pay taxes four times a year, and pay the gestor to do this for me
Maybe you can see why the *alternative* market continues to flourish in Spain!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Broke back bike

Rode home on Friday with a crippled bike.  In fact I had to push the last good long part of the way home. 

The rear derailer was crunching into the rings on the back of the bike.  NOT HEALTHY!

The Man, darling that he is had a go, cleaned things up, which did help, but not ultimately.

So today, off to the bike store.

Hoy por hoy,

Ara per ara

Now for now....if not earlier.  That is the problem with commuter bikers, they need there bikes fixed NOW.

So, the kind man fit me in, I had to go for a walk while I waited till he could look at it....went to talk to a gestor, which is another entire conversation...there's  a blog post.....and saw a couple of pretty things, well more than that, but got the camera out for two of them:

The piece that had to be replaced?  That'd be the rear derailer, he quoted me 88€, my gasp of horror brought that down to 28€ and a certainly cheaper model.  Fine by me.

See those two cog wheels?

Along the bottom edge there, one on the far right and one at the bottom left corner of the main body.  They're supposed to be in line and pointing the same direction.  They clearly aren't.  Ho hum.

Best for last.  I gave the bike a trial spin as I went out, and there was this weird noise. Got the mechanic back, he spun it around, tightened something up and said it would be good.  Weird noises even more continuous, but him out again, he rode around, off, eyed the bike for a few moments, and saw the clip for my knapsack ticking against the wheel!  Cheap fix!!!!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Went walking again!

We were supposed to have gone to Cap de Creus and the monastery there, which I would LOVE to go to, I adore Cap de Creus, but the weather forecast was absolute crap, so we went down to Tarragona, where it was somewhat better.

Still pretty darned foggy, and kinda chilly, but amazing.

It was a pretty steep climb up and out of the place where we started, working our way up through rock slides and underbrush, and was honestly pushing the limits of some of the people in the group.....kinda muddy too, which was slippery on the slopes.  (Honestly, I thought it was a ton of fun, but there were some folks in the group who were struggling)

In this picture, I've completed the climb, those folks are still working their way up.  It's a little steep!

Below, the view from the top in a clearer moment!

At the very highest point (about 10 feet higher, it was pretty flat up there, there was an old observation tower, which had this inside it!


There were goldfish in a water tank, really chilly and rather slow moving gold fish.....

And right at the end of the trip, these quite amazing drystone structures....

Lovely day.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Good news!

Scrolling through my ereader, I came across these two bits of good news (I'm not counting our wonderful Ontario Premier's snub of Ford)

1:  Female sea snails are no longer growing penises since a toxic chemical has been banned.

This is amazing news!  Lots more happy snails - who were suffering a wide range of other problems as well - and it is good to see that change is possible

then there was

2:  India has been officially declared POLIO FREE!  I think that is also amazingly good news!!!! Change, good change is also possible!


Thursday, January 16, 2014


Here's an article about Jane Urquhart's upcoming book in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary.

Here's an article about the British Museum's anniversary of public opening.  The 255th.

Obviously, there were people living and loving and dying in Canada for 10s of thousands of years before this anniversary year, and that is not something to be forgotten for a moment.


Canada, 150

British Museum open to the public, 255.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

sculpture in an cemetary

Went off recently to a cemetery in Arenys de Mar.  There were several reasons for this apparently strange desire, but here they are.  We went, over Christmas, to an exhibit at the CCCB in Barcelona (a museum) about a Catalan author and poet Salvador Espriu who came from Arenys and who is buried there.  The kernel of the idea is born.

Also, the cemetery is supposed to have some decent architecture in the modernist style, what you have to understand is that the same people who had the fantastic buildings put up all over this area, also built astonishing tombs.  Barcelona cemetery is well worth a visit.  Arenys is supposed to be that way too.

Well, not so much, there were a few sculptures by Josep Llimona (meh, all rather long and lugubrious, but whatever) and a couple of overblown tombs....

but the best was a temporary exhibit in the cemetery by a local artist.  There are some amazing local artists by the way.  My photos are not so great as the friend I was with wasn't very interested in the sculptures and so I was going pretty fast, but I'm still likely to post more of them than you're interested in.  Interestingly the exhibition, or more accurately the series of sculptures are all related to the poetry of Espriu and this last year was the something or other anniversary of his birth/death, not sure.  Clever of the artist to produce this in such a timely way, no?

I really liked the work.  Really a lot, as in, I may go back on the weekend.  That said, the work seemed fairly obviously derivative.  That may not be fair, but it sings strongly of Picasso, Miró and Tàpies, but strongly.  She does have her own look and feel, I am not saying that, but the influence of these three is really strong.  Not so sure about that.

So, without more ado, the sculptures!  Also a video about the artist, with subtitles in English, and her webpage in English

I love this one, Achillies' worst tattoo idea!!!!

They were mostly between mid-thigh and waist high on me....mixed media, but mostly clay.....really neat.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How you really make toast

When I went walking the other day, we stayed overnight in a casa rural, and they had a SPECTACULAR fireplace, and they'd gotten the fire going before we arrived, it was marvelous.  One of the women with us is an expert at real toast.

It's a little hard to see in the photo, but the trick is a branch or a bar along the front, you spike the toast onto the fork and a really flat angle, with the curve of the fork forming a convex arc away from the bread, then you prop the fork at the junction of the inside curve and the break against the branch or bar....leave a while, then flip.

Seriously yummy toast.