Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween poops

Never thought it would be me, but last night, Halloween night, we had the shutters closed and doors locked.  We even had a blanket tacked over the crack in the front door (old doors = big crack) so we didn't have to sit in the dark.

NEVER thought I would be the one doing that.

Catalans have the 'Castanyada' on the 31st, it's a family sort of event that involves eating chestnuts.  I'm not sure it was all that big a deal till it started to get overshadowed by Halloween.   Normally we have a party for a couple of the kid's friends.  When they were smaller, it as for a LOT of the kid's friends and this year Youngest was talking about having one but as some of Youngest's friends are at that, "I don't like her....", "If she comes I won't!"  stage of going to a party Youngest decided not to have one.  Sad.

Every year there have been a few more kids running around in costumes, but the reality is that Halloween here is NOTHING like Halloween in Toronto, or anywhere in Canada and the US, or Parts of South and Central America where it is the Day of the Dead.  Here, it's pretty boring, they don't get the community aspect of it.  Just not part of the thing.

This year also, I have heard more protest against Halloween, more people refusing to say Happy Halloween and insteads saying Happy Castanyada.  Probably part of the rising independence movement.

So, this year, nothing.  No decorations, no candy handed out, no party.


Well, that's not strictly true, today (Saturday) we're planning on carving a pumpkin, eating a bit of candy, a lot of chips and some pop while watching Dr Who - if we're lucky, the Man will make a pumpkin pie.  So...all is not lost!

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I should have gotten some photos, but I was busy working in the garden.

We have a little garden in front of the house, it is a lovely little garden and it was growing like a jungle...which I let it do over the summer, helps to keep the soil moist and shaded so that everything survives.

But today it had to come out.

The cats LOVE the jungle, they LOVE IT!!!

I was worried when I was working away clearing out the overbrush (Is that a word?  It is now) that I would scare off the cats, but no.  One of them anyway was quite content to lie quietly in the middle of everything and watch me working away.  I'm walking right past here with gigantic armloads of plants to throw out, and she just calmly watches me go by.

Later she found a spot under a bush.

Later still, we saw her asleep like she was dead in the long grass.  I didn't trim the grass so some of it is VERY long indeed....though I trampled it down a bunch.

Glad to know the cats will keep coming back. 

Part of the place they are.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seems a bad sign

It seems a bad sign when the place you're living in is being studied in school - world issues. 

Yes, one of my daughter's friends is studying what is going on here.

Really Madrid?  Is this how you want the world to look at Spain?

That'll be good for business.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chuck in the pati

Now, why would I be taking a photo rather than letting him in?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Went to Plaça Catalunya

Many many people didn't go, which I kind of don't understand.  But many many people did too.

The ANC (Associació Nacional de Catalunya) and Omnium - a huge cultural group - called the meeting today.

I was a wee little bit worried about it, cause I sense a pretty high level of frustration in the Catalans I know, but they are also very sensible people.

We went, the man and I, with a friend and a friend of his.

Interesting to say the least.  Both organizations are headed by women (another reason to love this country) and Carme Forcadell, the head of ANC, is an amazing speaker.

My friend said to me to listen to her.  She doesn't waste a word. Everything she says is worth listening to and moves things forward.

He was absolutely right.

I listened to her live, and then listened to her twice more on Vilaweb.  It is in Catalan, so it is unlikely that many of you will understand what she is saying.  She is amazing. She scolded the politicians like they were children.  Told them to get back to the table and shoulder their responsibilities and demanded elections within the next three months.

We'll see what happens, but she has drawn the new route forward and laid down a route for everyone.

A most amazing day.

Oh, and I've got to get the man to handle all photographs in the future. Really.  Why is he a writer?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The news as of 15.10.14 at 10pm

As far as what's going on here.  I don't know where to start and whatever I write is going to be old news in an hour.

But, at the moment, Artur Mas, the president of Catalunya, cancelled the referendum scheduled for Nov 9th to huge disappointment, and a very strange level of quiet.  I find myself much more vocally radical than the people around me.  It is strange.  I have always admired the Catalans for their tolerance and forbearance, but I am confused by the complete and absolute absence of a reaction, they are not even talking about it much amongst themselves.  It is very strange.

Sort of like steam building in a pressure cooker.

There is, at the moment, a large demonstration planned for Sunday, though that has not been universally announced, so who knows if it that will happen, or if the entire political scene will alter again radically between now and then.

In some ways calling off the vote was wise, the Spanish have been massing National Police throughout Catalunya, on standby, not quite sending in the military, but not far off, and any civil servant who volunteered to help with the vote was being threatened with prosecution, and many were volunteering; but at some point Catalunya is going to have to stand up to Spain and not simply sit around waiting for Europe to say something.

It is very odd from a Canadian perspective, the Spanish response has been very 18th century.  No dialogue, no discussion.  No democracy.

They argue that the Constitution cannot be changed, but we both know that constitutions are, and are meant to be, fluid documents that reflect the reality of the country at that time.  It is also very hypocritical as they had to alter the Constitution this spring as there was no mechanism for the King to abdicate, which he did, and they are going to have to alter it again to allow for female succession as the current King, whatever his name is, only has daughters and the next in line is an extremely distant half nephew or something of the sort.

Really, the issue with Catalunya could be so easily solved.  Get their hands off the language and education, which are supposed to be organized provincially, but which they radically altered (undermined) unilaterally last year, vastly weakening the education system here and greatly reducing the amount of Catalan that can be spoken in the schools.  It is quite shocking what they did.  Echos of Franco.

Second, they need to even up the financial imbalance within Spain so that, yes the rich provinces give more than they get, but not as unevenly as it is now and thirdly and finally, transparency in government.  There is no way anyone can know where and to whom the Spanish government sends the money they receive other than by inference, and they are the only ones who can levy taxes; the provinces and municipalities are entirely dependent on Madrid for dispersal of funds.  Transparency isn't going to happen anytime soon though as they all have their fingers in the pie, and it is the same here in Catalunya, quite shocking coming from Canada, but, as an example, I cannot find out anything about the budget in my village even, not even what the local councilors make, and no one can.  Completely opaque.

Anyway, I could keep rambling is a mess, but a fast changing and interesting one.  Also leaving me baffled, frustrated, and angry in pretty much even parts.

Anyway, one insider's news.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


to develop.

A pretty normal word in English.

A would just like to lodge a small complaint.  I really really strongly dislike the word for develop in Catalan.

I am sorry.

But it is true.


There it is.


Too long, too hard to say, too hard to spell.


Development?  Desenvolupament.

A b*tch to spell.

Sorry to all of you Catalans, it is a lovely language.  That word though?  Blech.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Aigua de Farigola

Thyme water

I have been a wee bit under the weather.  Some digestive complaints shall we say.

A friend - a very very Catalan friend - called up to see if I wanted to go walking.  I said no, as you might imagine, as I needed to be in closer proximity to a loo and hadn't eaten a lot.....he said I needed aigua de farigola - which I had read about!

Though I had heard of it as a soup.  And in fact other Catalans had mentioned it to me too.  It has to be about the simplest thing in the world to make, take some thyme (farigola) - dried - that ideally has been picked in the mountains, and put it in water to boil. Like making tea.

If you are making soup from this, traditionally you would put a piece of bread in the bottom of the bowl, with a lot of olive oil on it and maybe a raw egg broken over it, then pour on the boiling hot steeped thyme water.

Supposed to be good for a hangover too.

I just used the water and thyme.  It turned out to be a super Catalan event, cause my friend from the phone didn't have dried thyme, only fresh, so he called another friend to come by and drop it off.

Such is the power of aigua de fariola.

Interestingly, after I'd made it, the man stopped and paused.  He figures his mom used to make it as it was stirring memories deep in his mind and smelled familiar.

She was a good Catalan too.

No, it's BILLION

I wrote million in the last post.  Million, cause giving a company 1.5 BILLION Euros defied imagination.


1.4 Billion Euros it is

1.4 Billion,


Now I want to go and hurt somebody.


It is so time to leave Spain.  C'mon Mas.  Let's get this done.  We've had 24% cut  in the education budget.  24%.


24% cut to education, but you can give 1.5 billion to your buddy (the one who owns Real Madrid) cause his business venture didn't work out, you know, he was causing freaking EARTHQUAKES????

Fuck off.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Trying not to lose faith.

Yah know?

I try not to post too much here that is negative, but jeez, starting to feel like I'd have to be the biggest sort of ostrich.

Climate change is upon us.  Well done us.

Middle east, where does one start?

Spain?  sigh.  I think I know too much.  Canaries wanted to have a referendum about fracking.  Seems they're not allowed.  Valencia, they were fracking there too, got it stopped, but the Spanish gov't has decided to give the company 1.5 million (or is that billions, see below) Euros cause they had to stop.  The health center in town has shut down all but normal working hours and the school has no optionals, but we can spare 1.5 million.  Oh, and know who owns the company?  The same guy who owns Real Madrid.  That football team.

Oh and also, the utter unimaginable stupidity of differences in the meaning of a billion between the US and the UK.  I mean honestly.  S.T.U.P.I.D.

And the BBC, as a final comment in a minor article mentioned Spains deepening financial crisis.  I thought things were actually starting to improve.  They seem to be in day to day ways around us.  Maybe trusting what I see is better than trusting what a journalist in London says, no?

On another note, the Catalans just voted in what is probably the most advanced LGBTQ legislation in the world, and funcionaris (FUNCIONARIS!)  are signing up to work voluntarily to help the vote go through in November. These are civil servants who are famed for being horrible paper pushers in a badly bloated system whose main purpose is to make life more difficult.

Girding up the optimism again.