Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mary, many many Marys

I went off to Vic today with the Man to visit the Medieval market.  It was fine.  They sold a LOT of tcotchka, but it was still a very good day.  We went to the Vic Episcopal museum, which was really neat.  I think there have been a lot of moneyed people in Vic for some time, and when great grandpa died the family would give all the stuff in the attic to the museum, and they've got some very cool stuff!  They also have a lot of work that was (somewhat dubiously) removed from rural churches all over Catalunya. That's a whole other post.

A lot of the material dates from the early middle ages, like the 11th century, and it seems that there weren't such strong ideas about what Mary should look like, so there was quite a lot of variation......


All of these are the classic Madonna with Jesus on her knee. 

This one below is my favourite I think....

I think these ladies are lovely and I adore the variation of expression and beauty.  They are not all teh same classic Madonna face and expression that became codified later, and they are charming.  When we get later into the Renaissance, things got a little creepy.....check these two out....These are statues to saints who hold, embedded in their chests, parts of their now dead bodies....

I am, however, somewhat suspicious, as one has a skull and no jaw, and the other a jaw and no skull....and those teeth!!!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Year of the brain, year of the brawn

Well, last year was really intense, a lot of work, finishing the Masters and it was all very very mental.  Last summer was also pretty intense with work, but I did almost no exercise.  I stopped doing any exercise at all more or less in March cause I just didn't have time, and I had barely done any before that anyway.....

Last summer I swam, which was marvelous but it was only 6 weeks, and ran a bit till I took a bad fall....

And my brain was w.e.a.r.y by the time September came around.  I am not studying anything.  Nothing.  I am reading detective novels, and doing a lot of physical exercise.  You see, I threw my back out in September because I hadn't done any exercise....I had to use a cane to get around for a few days.  Not fun.

So now?  I swim twice a week, I am doing weights twice a week, I do pilates once a week, I ride my bike three days a week and I wish I could get motivated for some yoga (unfortunately Chuck the dog wants to join me and it is not very successful) 

My back is just getting to the stage that I could think about running, but it is freaking freezing here.  Not by Canadian standards, I know, but still, we're sitting at about 6º most of the day and it is NOT motivating for going running.

However, this morning?  This morning I swam 3.2 km.  3.2!!!  In an hour and a half!!!  Ok, not exactly making Phelps worried, but still!  That's a lot of front crawl!!!!!  I've been working on technique, and I got that a lot better, then the breathing went down the toilet, but today it all came together and I just swam and swam and swam.  I could have kept going too! 

That said, my arms are a little weary, but I went to do weights and it went far better than I thought it yeah!

In the New Year I'll introduce a little mental work.... maybe......

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Graduated from the Master's today and I have to say that it felt pretty sweet!!!!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

What happened next

Well, Puigdemont declared independence, and Catalunya was independent for about 1 minute, and then he suspended it, asking for dialogue and mediation.

Disappointing, but wise.

The Spanish responded by shutting down the website of the Assemblea, almost instantly, charging the two Jordis, heads of Assemblea and Omnium with sedition again, alongside the head of the Mossos, Trapero.

Rajoy came on line and basically told Catalunya to fuck off.

They have made the first step towards invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution that will remove Catalunya's autonomy and the Spanish will have complete control of Catalunya, the schools, education system, police, government, health center etc......

They have also sent to orders to the Catalan education system and the  much loathed Vice-president (whose entire family are actually fascists, except for one brother) came on to say that there would  never be dialogue.

They require Puigdemont to clarify his statement, and he has until Monday to answer.

The pro-Spain group had a demonstration in Barcelona today, with predictable violence.  Trashed the Cafe Zurch, etc....

Life is not that peaceful or comfortable.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On the proclamation of independence

I feel like I should have been writing more here about what is happening, but I just haven't.  Too stressful maybe?

Anyway, I just wrote this to a friend, and it seemed apt for the moment.  A declaration of independence, as a republic has been made.  Pretty amazing stuff right there.

October 10th, 2017.
Sort of all holding our breath.  Puigdemont, the Catalan president declared independence, and then suspended it to give the chance for mediation and dialogue.  Mostly Catalans are concerned as he didn't put a timeline on it, some are disappointed, but it is the wisest course in my opinion, especially considering the people asking for mediation and discourse.  Let them find out how intransigent the Spanish government is.  About 20 National police riot vehicles roared at high speed through the downtown of Barcelona with their sirens on while Puigdemont spoke, like toddlers who want attention.  Unreal.  If talks fail, they will invoke independence.  There seems to be a good chance that they will arrest Puigdemont, and possibly soon.  They may also dissolve the government in Catalonia, but the Catalans and the Catalan parliament won't recognize that.

It still doesn't look good.  The Spanish government's vice-president was positively rabid about this being illegal, and there being no movement and no dialogue, and the Guardia Civil, one of the two groups of police that were beating people up have (again) shut down the website of one of the two big non-governmental groups that are organizing this.  We have a variety of chat groups, like whatsapp, but more secure, that are based out of the States and out of France, that they cannot touch, but it is not a good sign.  China 2.0

Held breath is the best description.

So far so good, I guess.
Especially as the ruling party threatened to arrest and kill Puigdemont yesterday.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

What I should do

I should use this blog as an indicator that I'm doing too much, if I want to post and simply haven't the time and energy, woops!  Too much.

Lots of lovely things to say, got back on the bike, had dinner with a dear friend, got a hair cut, went sailing, at delicious gelato, hung out peacefully at home with the man.  Best of all.

Photos to follow, but for now, to walk the dog.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Saw the first bunny of the season while running today!

Cool, no?  It has been so wet here there just haven't been many bunnies about.  I've seen a raccoon, a baby who climbed up a tree while the man and I were walking the dog.  Some squirrels too, though their numbers seem much diminished by the coyotes, we say coyotes too.  Chippies, and a student's dog got skunked this morning, so they still seem to be around.  

It is pretty neat isn't it.

Days at work are pretty frantically busy, but very good.  Wooooosh and the day is gone by.


Saturday, July 22, 2017


My favourite part of ebooks?  Never having to give away a book you love again. 

We're going through the storage locker, going to bring things over to Spain and so a lot is being discarded.  Ouch. 

Ebooks, read 'em and leave 'em.  That sound cold, but with the Toronto Public Library I can read them as often as I want and then just let them go.  So nice. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Having spent three weeks in Toronto now, I have discovered I am wildly radical. 
Little did I know I was such an iconoclast.  I seem to be radical because I am pretty much the only person I see who doesn't have a tattoo, let alone 10 of them.

At what point does edgy and cool just become ugly and commonplace.  For me, it has easily been reached.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Went to see the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at the AGO today with the man and my folks.  First we had something to eat though.....


At the Pho place.....

then a coffee around the corner:

decaf mocca latte, aren't I special!

Then on to the amazing AGO, which didn't let us take photos in the O'Keeffe exhibit, so these are from another very cool show and the building itself.

The man and I are also in the trenches going through papers to decide what to ship to Spain, and what to bin.  Sucky work, except when you find the photos!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cool street art

They've been painting on some of the service boxes in the city, I am not sure if they are phone company, or traffic signals, but the paintings are fun anyway!





These are just a random sampling of the ones I've gone by, but I really like them!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I really love it.  Such a wide range of interesting things to listen to.  I subscribe to them, so they automatically load to my phone when they are published, often weekly.  I did realise that I am a complete geek when I was so excited about two podcasts that loaded overnight....great listening today!

btw, I was listening to the Infinite Monkey Cage, and Pod save America.  Great ones. 

I still hate driving and so hate other drives, I was plagued today by people going slowly in the fast lane, but the podcasts make it all bearable.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Had a brilliant run today, mucky, muddy, wet, a million mosquitoes, stinging nettle etc etc etc and it was absolutely marvelous.  The shoes are absolutely soaked, but I'm doing it again tomorrow, so....too bad!

Now that so much of the work is finishing up, I have time to do some drawing again, and maybe in a little bit, some painting, though I've only got watercolours with me, so they will be d.r.e.a.d.f.u.l to begin with.  They are so hard! 

However, here's a little of what I've been drawing:

Nothing brilliant here, but goodness it is lovely to get my hand in again!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Notes from the day

Wow, this turned out to be a busy one, despite the slow and relaxing start!

The man and I were going through the locker, we're paring down the stuff we own (again) and we're almost certainly going to take a bunch of it to Catalunya with us.  Let's hope the country doesn't fall apart with the independence referendum just as we arrive with all this stuff after all these years!!!!

Goodness gracious, sometimes I think we're crazy.

We're also gave some stuff away to one of the Man's sisters, and we're going to give them some more, and some stuff to friends. That was the best part of the day, hanging out with the Man's sister and her family for a bit and then with friends for quite a while.  That was very cool.  But, man o man,  we own too much stuff.  Really, far far far too much.  

Anyway, as we were going through we found the man's tails!  (and then Goodwilled them) Sorry Eldest!!!!

We also went for dinner last night, I was going to take a photo but was too hungry and so the photo is of the empty plates.  

And, I went by High Park Zoo for an ice cream and to visit the capybara babies!!!!

Don't know why that photo is kinda pink, but the ice cream was yum.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Master's is completely done.

Got the mark (82)  and it's finished. 

Sing a hallelujah chorus!!!!!

What I was going to write about though was that the upside of the ridiculous amount of work I had this last year is that I am so freaking happy doing simple things, coming home, having a nap, reading a book, walking the dog, went out for dinner with the man.  So good, and it makes me so incredibly happy. 

Love it.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Swimming again

So, I was pretty focused today on getting my arm to stay up, rather than sink, while I take a breath.  It seemed to be working, partially grim determination, and partially better head position when breathing (thought this did mean that I took on rather more water than before!)  This too shall pass.

Also, trying to keep my elbow high on the breathing side, as the arm is just kind of useless.  I tried breathing on the other side, and the same thing happened with that arm, so there is work to do.

Very late, I'd like to write more, but mostly I want to sleep!!!

Went on the TGIF, bailed due to rain, thunder and no wind.  Ah well, we had a lovely dinner anyway.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Unsure, and very sure

I was unsure about going on the run this morning, as the tendon that attaches to the top front of my kneecap was sore from yesterday's swim, but I REALLY wanted to I went, delicately.  And it was lovely, and muddy and wet and wonderful. Only did 2.5k, but it was a good outing and my knee actually felt better for the effort.

I was, however, very sure that I would enjoy my evening, walked the dog, ate some dinner, read my book, chatted with the man, did a wee little bit of work, and now I'm getting ready to swim tomorrow morning.

Nice day all around.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Back at swimming

Today was the first day back at swimming training after a year away.  Well, that was quite something.  I got graduated out of the slow-poke lane, which was kinda nice, but also meant that I got a lot less direct coaching, in fact none at all today, but it's early days, and I certainly needed to warm up and get organized.

It went way better than I thought it would, I figured my form would have been much worse, but it felt OK.  No Phleps or anything here, and I am still in the slowest but one lane, but still, it felt OK!  I'm not as strong though (what a surprise) and I'm going to be stiff in spots, mostly my shoulder.

Still, that was pretty great.  Oddly, one of my knees is bugging me, which is not making me happier, I may have to finally cave and get that looked at when we get back to Spain.  Gimpy knees are not welcome!

All in all, really nice.

I only took on water involuntarily once as well!!!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What to say

Now you see, this is one of those days where I don't know where to start, cause so much happened, and so little of it can I talk about here as it was work related (happens when you put in a really intense 11 hour day!)

But this is also part of what I love about the blog, cause it forces me to sit down and comb through the day and pick out the bits that were great, that were worth noting, where the teeth of the comb hang up on something and I get to reflect on it and move through it a bit more. 

Maybe I'll start with some vignettes,

Ohhhhh, I love those seaweed snacks, the ones with the toasted salted seaweed sheets?  Sooooo delicious and I can convince myself that I am getting vital minerals and vitamins too.

Making bread is one of the great things to do in life, my day was ruled and ordered by bacteria.....indeed the entire institute's day was, 36 people, all waiting on the eating habits of those yeasty bugglets.  Very nice bread at the end of it all too.  Mmmmmmmmm

Babies are amazing, watching a 6 month old gnaw on a cold metal table leg......mmmmmmm good on those gums!

Jars of breast milk in the freezer at work, kinda stressed mom, but it is lovely to see too.

That exquisite stress and tension when you just get on the highway and realize you have almost no gas left, and then the relief when you get to a station and it's still running.

Coming home to a dog who is so happy to see you, then almost falling asleep on the carpet while you scratch his belly.  It's not that I'm tired, it's just easier to sit on the floor.  No, no no, I'm not sleepy, that's not why I'm lying down on the rug with the dog, it's just more comfy....mhhhmmmmhhhhh

A good day, a long day, a busy day, but a very good day too.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lord I love the library

And other good stuff in a lovely long relaxing day.

Honestly, this three day weekend feels like I had a week off.  So nice.  Went up to the boat, hung out with the man, ate out, pho and a great burger, had dinner with my sister in law, went to the fabulous library walked the dog a lot and finally, FINALLY, did a bit of drawing!

Went and picked up a couple of pads, a couple of pencils and an eraser......brought the brushes and paint.  So fabulous to start again.  The work I did is mediocre, not a surprise considering how long it's been, but man it was great.


Love it, getting back to doing some of the things I love to do.

Pat the boat day

The man and I went off yesterday to pat the boat.  She looks great!  We've got some ideas for the work we want to do on her this year, (I say we very guardedly there, as really, I'll be at work and the man is going to do all the work.

The main sail needs new mast slugs and the metalwork is rusting and needs to be changed out, there was talk about revarnishing the tiller, but I don't see it here in the city, so maybe not.  Also talk about working on the v-berth to make it a little more civilized, which would be very nice indeed if we pulled that off!

There were a lot of boats on the hard still, it has been an extremely wet spring and people just aren't getting their boats in, I did manage a swim at the beach, it was chilly and got a gasp as I got in, but was really nice; predictably, Chuck thought I was going to die and got all worked up.

The man and I spent part of the drive trying to figure out what to do with our lives, once again, no success, just too many variables.  Other people must lead more settled lives, making these kinds of decisions a little more straightforward, but goodness gracious, we haven't got very much clear at all.

None of it's bad though, we're just not sure where we're going with it all.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Let's see if this gets up and running again

It's been ages since I wrote consistently, and I've been too busy to even think about it, but it would be nice to get it going again, I enjoy the process of writing in the blog, and more so the process of combing through the day and noticing the notable.

The master's is done, though I haven't received a mark yet, I am fairly confident it will pass, though I will feel better when the mark comes in.

Work is work and there is a lot of it. 

  1. Work teaching English in one language school
  2. Ditto another
  3. Teaching FCE prep online in the second
  4. Teaching online at la UOC
  5. Examining for Cambridge English exams
  6. Teaching in TO as a teacher trainer
  7. Running the online material for that same teacher training institute.  

That's a lot, all part time, and there may be more next year.

Kids are, at the moment, both happy and stress free it would seem, the man has gone to bed at 7:30 exhausted.  The dog has decided that food is for wimps and isn't eating.  I'm waiting him out.  Chuck the dog and I will go and move the car at around 9 to legal overnight parking.

It is odd coming back here, in some ways we have fewer friends than we did before, and there is no routine to organize us.  I'm doing the swimming like I did last year, I really liked it, and Chinese classes as well twice a week, I don't want to forget it all, and it looks like it may come together, it doesn't do any harm to learn it anyway.

Hope X is feeling better. Both N and we were having pho at the same time on different continents, which is funny.....dinner was very good indeed, I do love pho and the man is saying that he may try making it!!!!  Now that is exciting.

This is not in anyway brilliant writing, a little more like accounting honestly, but it's what I'm thinking.  I have an enormous group of students this summer, it's going to be pretty wild and a lot of work, but we should be able to get it done, well we have to.  And I also want to get some work done on the online classroom project, as well as talk to Nancy about using Schoology rather than drive, we'll see about that.  It can be linked.  On that note, I am going to go and do a bit of work on developing the sandbox for the students as the man is asleep and it's too early to move the car, and I finished my book.  It was good too.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

First thoughts on Glasgow, from the evening of my arrival

This city is WAY more beautiful than I thought it would be.....WAY!!!  And seriously rich, in the past and now.  There are tons and tons of amazing buildings.  As my offspring puts it, based on shipping spices, slaves and tobacco.  Well. We can feel good about the spices anyway. 

There continues to be some really amazing architecture being put up too.  It is also bigger than I thought it would be.  Clearly my assumptions about the city weren't accurate.

Flying in though....the Scots are different than the Catalans in one respect anyway, they've cut down every god damned tree for hundreds of kilometers.  Every last one flying in was like a freaking moonscape.  Weird.

The brits do know how to do milk products.  Eating cheddar (how I miss it!) and having double cream in my tea!!!  (Heh, I'm on vacation!!!)

Thoughts on a day in Geneva

Oh, OK, the city is fine, the public transit bus drivers are complete a**holes.  OMG.  'Nuff said.

CERN, super cool, but without a tour, only sorta kinda worth the effort. I'd still love to go on a tour, so someday I'll have to book the tour and then the flights.

Geneva itself, not a lot there, honestly.  Banks, watches and super high end shopping.  Most people were doing shopping with only a few tourists wandering around the old part of town.  I think it must have been one of the very first warm sunny days they've had, cause man, the folks who live there were out in DROVES!

Food, insanely expensive.  8 Swiss francs for a sandwich!!!!  I'll grant, it was a good sandwich, but still.

I was so tired, so so so tired..... I ended up having a nap in a park, along with about 20 other people.  Just lay out on the grass.  That was marvelous.

I can understand quite a lot of French, but remain largely mute.  It was coming back quickly, so I would probably be able to function in a relatively short amount of time, but goodness, the brain is a funny place.

I didn't get to see the following two pictures, you don't get to see that even on a tour, but they had some very impressive images up on the wall.....

These are actual CERN particles!!!

A CERN smile.

Had a nap under this magnolia....

The archaeological museum I wasn't willing to pay to go into.

Neptune, out for a walk.

Finally, there's all that Swiss efficiency, but honestly, a certain lack of information for tourists.  It was all a little confusing, and not just cause I was tired.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


People seem to differ a bit in their approach to reading. 

Well, that's an obvious comment isn't it...let me be clearer, readers seem to differ in their approach to reading.  My husband, for example, far prefers to read a number of books at the same time, up to 5 of them, and he alters through them via some kind of internal algorithm or emotional guage.  I have always preferred to read one book, finish it and start the next. 

This difference may have to do with my husbands rather formidable ability to remember.  Really, it is amazing.  However, if I leave a book too long I lose track of some of the details of the story.  Though for me it is also about sinking myself into the story and entering the world, so switching frequently between them is not what interests me terribly. 

Right now, however, for powers beyond my control, I am reading 5 books at the same time.  Kinda not enjoying it.  I gave up last night, stayed up late and finished one of them.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

This is not a humble brag

This is straight up amazement.

I've been studying Mandarin a bit, and look what I can understand!  (Only in the context, not sure I would be able to on the street, but still.....)




And it sounds like this:

I only have to check 10 or 11 times to write it correctly too!  Not only that, but I understood it right off....the characters are hard though, and they need to be written in a specific order, which does actually have a lot of logic to it and makes it easier to understand.

Here I'm writing (more or less, I am sure my handwriting is appalling) Hello!

Oh, and it says...

Hello, how are you?

I'm very good, and you?

I'm also very good.

Cool, no?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Flowers in January

I'm Canadian, and seeing flowers in January continues to amaze me.  You see it's hot here compared to Canada, but it's not THAT hot, it's not tropical.  If you go somewhere tropical, you aren't surprised by flowers in January, but here, it is chilly...our high today was about 14º and the low about 5º.  OK, but Canada standards, that's pretty darned nice, and it is pretty darned nice, but not something that shrieks out FLOWERS!!!!

So I am utterly delighted when they show up....

There's only one of these irises, and I think they may be my favourite flowers.....

This bush is madly pumping out the roses, we have them in all stages, and they smell wonderful.

The lemon tree has more lemons than sense, which I suppose is to be expected, but really, it grows so many lemons that it gets literally doubled over from the weight of them.

Jasmine, we have lots of this too......

Another rose, these don't smell as strongly, but are lovely, we've got one bloom and some buds.

Such a treat.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


These holidays are maybe a little boring, and maybe it would have been great to go and do something, like tour Italy, but that was not in the cards financially this year, and you know what? 

It has been (and continues to be) least for me!  The Man and I have seen almost all of the exhibitions that are on in BCN (including a surprisingly crappy one yesterday), and I have read a book almost every day after the Christmas excitement ended.  Not doing much of anything, walking the dog, reading and doing the necessary chores.

It has been great.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Yesterday was marvelous

Really!  I had the most amazing start to the year!  Went for a walk in the hills with the dog and the man, went to friends and had a marvelous New Year's day lunch, read a fantastic book (The Martian), had a nap and went to a stunning concert here in the village.  The musicians were having fun, at the end they had santa hats on, or police hats (?) or barratines, they played a weird instrument they'd made out of bottles filled to different depths and lit and suspended.  It was fun, it was great music beautifully played, but the highlight was the tenor....OMG

It isn't a big theater and it was like a private performance.  Josep Fadó  I mean, good lord.  We even got to sing Silent Night, which was cool, I love that carol....but everyone was singing different words than me (in Catalan) big deal.....he sang this piece among others.  It was amazing, make your hair stand up on end.