Sunday, 25 November 2012

Black Friday Spanish Style

I constantly marvel how easily Spain embraces things so typically American such  as Halloween. For years, on this particular night we've witnessed party-goers dressed up as ghosts, goblins, vampires, etc. and children asking for sweets. Maybe it's because Spain is famous for its 'fiestas', and so it looks like Halloween is here to stay. Now this past Friday some of the shops, particularly the larger ones, had up signs for 'Black Friday'. The sales are usually held in January (starting on the 7th) and July. However, in recent years and because of the crisis, sales are happening earlier and lasting longer - not a bad idea considering what you can save on Christmas gifts. I know loads of people in other parts of the world who've already done their Christmas shopping. Spanish people are different, like the old slogan 'Spain is different'. The shops will be crowded on 5th of January I guarantee. with people buying whatever at whatever price because they've left shopping until the last possible moment.  6th January is the day when presents are exchanged and the 7th when they're returned to the shops, hence this is the traditional day the sales start.There are still people who refuse to have their bills sent through the bank and who leave paying said bills in the bank until the last possible moment and then complain because they have to wait since banks have set days and times when you can pay bills.

Anyway, I hope everyone in the US had a good Thanksgiving. I had a great birthday celebration in a Greek restaurant and was showered with lots of goodies from my friends. There are restaurants here that do prepare 'Thanksgiving' meals, but I can honestly say of the times we've gone out to celebrate the food has been good at only one of them. Once we went to Friday's (TGIF) and instead of cranberry sauce, we were given blueberry jam because the Spanish word for both is the same and the stuffing had no spices in it whatsoever. The only complaint at the Greek was the moussaka had shrunk in size. I suppose so as to maintain the prices. Even so, Chris took home some of her chicken. We tend to order too much or fill up on the delicious appetizers, which is more like it.

My photo is of my sister's dog, Ruby, using my niece's doll, which now belongs to her daughters, as a pillow. When I see Kris's dogs, I'm reminded of Sophie, a black sweetie, and Ruby. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Strike One, Strike Two And...

now we're into our third strike in the last 3 months. I wasn't too aware of the first one at the end of September since I'd just come back from holiday. The second one was this past week. I can't say for the main street, but there were absolutely no problems with pickets in my area. The hardware shop across the street was open as were most, if not all the ones, I passed. Because I don't agree with most strikes and this one in particular, I had class. The rubbish collectors in Madrid are on strike now though for only 3 days. Thank goodness! They're protesting because the Town Council has decided to take away one rubbish pick-up day - from 7 to 6 days. In my street the day they don't come around now is Sunday. Our rubbish bin is in the street probably getting filled up. I just heard someone drop some rubbish in, and I bet I know who. I'll hold off putting mine out as long as possible. In my block, we've never put rubbish out on a Sunday anyway.

Since I can remember I've been 'green' even before I knew the meaning of being 'green'. I remember being in the car with my family and everyone except me throwing their drink cans out the window. To this day I hate seeing litter carelessly thrown along the roads or onto wastegrounds. On Thursday I took a bag full of empty printer cartridges into a shop and the young shop assistant handed me a flash drive and said, "Here. You can probably use this." I can't remember the last time I've been given something in a shop, can you?

My photo today is one of my birthday presents. I'm still waiting for a new camera, one that I hope takes better photos (or is it the photographer?). In case you're not sure what it is, it's a Nepali mountainside hooded wool scarf. I got it from the Animal Rescue site. It looks good on, and, mostly importantly, will keep my head warm. I'll be celebrating my birthday in a Greek restaurant while some of you will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Hope everyone has a wonderful celebration and week. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Read My Owl

Yesterday was the day of our monthly lunch with those friends we don’t see as often as we used to or those who choose not to go in for our weekly Chinese dinner.  I live just right around the corner from the small Spanish bar and restaurant we’ve been going to since I’ve lived in Spain. The place has changed hands a couple of times, but the family who own it now are friends of ours. At least we’re on a first name basis. The restaurant was closed probably because Friday was a holiday. I hadn’t even thought of stopping by to ask them if they were going to open. The next time I will, because this isn’t the first time they’ve taken a long weekend, not that I’m complaining. Anyway, we ended up in a restaurant near the main street. I wasn’t impressed with what I asked for, which was way too greasy; the salad had lots of shrimp and both my friend Cathy and I are allergic to seafood. To make a long story short, I came home still hungry and we paid double what we would normally pay. To make matters worse, this morning I woke up with a big zit on my forehead just like a teenager!

I thought this owl picture that one of my friends posted on facebook was very appropriate for what I’m thankful for today and this week. I’m glad the elections in the States are over with. There was too much bickering, blocking and gloating going on for my taste on sites like facebook. As I commented on Terri’s blog, I stay clear of topics such as religion and politics for the simple reason that people can be so irrational when it comes to these things. I didn’t actually mention religion, but I don’t discuss it either. The block button is certainly useful, but not for blocking someone who doesn’t share your point of view. I’ll  continue respecting everyone’s right to an opinion even when I don’t agree. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid or whatever label they could be given.

Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it is just around the corner. Hope everyone enjoys a good pre-Thanksgiving week.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Halloween Fun and Tragedy

My friend Chris’s birthday falls on Halloween. As some of you know, we celebrate our birthdays in a restaurant of our choice. Chris always chooses an Indian. The one we usually go to is the original Indian restaurant in Madrid, by that I mean the first one. I didn’t know that before last Wednesday though.

I’ve got a couple of trivia questions for you about Indian restaurants: What kind of music do you expect to hear in an Indian restaurant? Indian. Correct, but wrong answer. When you’re on You Tube and type the letter ‘g’ in the search box, what’s the first song that begins with this letter that comes up? ‘Gangham Style’? Yes, that’s correct! That’s what was playing  when we went in, followed by Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Got a Feeling’. After that, we pretty much enjoyed the food, which was Indian-style without the horse-riding, and the company, logically. However, I think we must have been the oldest witches out on Halloween. The underground (subway) was packed with young party goers. I’ve never seen so many people on the trains on Halloween before!

One sad note, which I’m sure will be remembered on successive Halloweens and which some of you may have heard about: 4 young girls were crushed to death at a macro-party at one of the installations the city of Madrid had built in hopes of getting the Olympic Games. The venue was supposedly for maximum 10,600 people but apparently there were 15.000, according to the D J, Steve Aoki. The party, by the way, was not held by Madrid. The city rented the space. Since then, the Mayor of Madrid has stated that no building of the city will be rented to such events in the future. My heart goes out to the families who lost their daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins,  granddaughters and friends and to those who have teenaged children who want to attend these huge gatherings. I’ve never enjoyed being in crowds.

Some are participating in a 21-day daily thanks here and some of my cousins on facebook are doing the same. I like what the picture I’m posting says. It reminded me of a couple of friends in the US that I need to write to more often.

I’m more a weekly blogger than someone who publishes daily, so I hope everyone has a good week whatever you do.