Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Last Post of 2013

Prawns and crab and other 'delicacies' before our Christmas meal. There were 8 of us here. I know I missed posting on Sunday, which is when I normally post. It was the day I finished my year-end clean out.
Enrique, husband of my longtime friend June and whose home I always go to on Christmas Day, making a toast. I didn't get a photo of the tree, but June decorates absolutely everything that can be covered in tinsel and lights, including the TV!
June and myself with the turkey fresh from the oven.
Alicia, Enrique's sister, butchering the turkey. She cut it up in chunks, not slices. Next year I think I'll take my electric carving knife. Last two photos...

My foxy sox. I love getting socks and such for Christmas.
A bottle of red wine from 2009 from the special Art Series. I jokingly said I was going to open a bodega (winery). This is the third bottle I've received recently - one for my birthday, one from the Chinese restaurant and this one. If you'd like some nice wine, you know where to come.

This was some of my Christmas. I have other photos on my phone of us getting our plates of food, but those I haven't uploaded. Now I'm getting ready for New Year's Eve. On the menu we have baked lomo de cerdo (similar to ham), scalloped potatoes that I haven't made for a long time, Brussel sprouts and carrots. I usually make a hot fudge pudding cake, but this year I have some teacakes. Then at midnight we each have 12 grapes and toast the new year with cava (champagne) or in my case cider; cava gives me a headache.

All the time I've been writing this, I've heard fireworks and a couple of them have been fairly close. As the evening progresses there will be even more. I always remember how frightened dogs like my Zara was at Christmas and hope they don't suffer too much. Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year too.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Santa's Visit

I can't believe I've finally got this personalized and created just for me picture by a local author- artist, who also happens to be a friend. As I posted on Facebook his creations are like his children and it's hard for him to let any of them go. However, due to the economic crisis, he has had to re-think his career, like many others, and start making money from his talent. Up until now he has been a graphic designer, or has attempted to make a living in this field, He can still be a scientist of aliens and discoverer and creator of 'species' - his passions - and create beautiful pictures too. He is, in my opinion, a genius and, hopefully one day, his name will be there alongside Picasso or Dalí. The owner of the Chinese restaurant we go to thinks he's pretty cool too. If you're interested, you can find more of his work here: www.herikbertomq.com.

If last week's post was short, this one is even shorter. I just wanted to wish everyone a blessed Christmas. Of course, I wanted to show off my Christmas present too. Happy safe Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fallen Leaves and a Christmas Fair

Believe it or not, this tree, which is in front of my windows, had many more leaves on it last week. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to see how many leaves were still on it. Friday afternoon we had rain that lasted up into the night. Then yesterday (Saturday) we had bright blue skies and a wind that was constantly blowing leaves off the trees that still had leaves left. I love the smell of these leaves and would love to walk through them in the country, but not in the city. Yesterday when I was out, I noticed a leaf stuck on the side of my shoe and scraped it off on the border of the street. Little did I know that I had a big clump of wet leaves on the bottom of both shoes until I came in and took off my shoes. At first I thought I'd stepped in dog poop hidden in the leaves. Thankfully the clumps were just wet leaves  that had got trapped in the grooves of my trainers. There were so many wet leaves covering the streets yesterday that I couldn't avoid walking through them. I just read before that one of my internet friends on Facebook slipped on some leaves yesterday and was knocked out. I pray that she doesn't have any problems because of this. I think I'll try to avoid fallen leaves as much as possible.

All those leaves I collected while going to and coming from a Christmas fair yesterday. I only bought a few things from one of my friends who was there. It was a disappointing outing - everything was so expensive! I did also get a few lovely Christmas cards that will have to be hand delivered, because going through the post would probably destroy them. I was looking forward to finding a few cheap gifts for my students, but it was not to be. Hopefully the Madrid Handcrafters will get the church hall next holiday season.

I'm late getting this written as I've been busy in the kitchen what time I haven't been out this weekend. I'll be going back there when I finish here. Last night I was even preparing my own washing soda that you can find in the laundry detergent aisle in supermarkets in the US. The washing soda is one of the ingredients I needed for the dishwasher tabs I made. I'll be making more too for my homemade laundry detergent.

Hope everyone is getting all their Christmas preparations done and as always hope you have a good week. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

It's the Busy Time of the Year

Today I'm going to be brief. As from my title you can see I'm busy with Christmas preparations and  not exactly the decorating kind, i.e. except for my kitchen floor that has been sprinkled with flour and powdered sugar. At the moment I've got rolls rising. How I love the smell of bread baking! Yesterday and the day before I devoted my time to making buckeyes, and later on I hope to start on the teacakes. At least I've learned that the chocolate I buy for my buckeyes turns out better when melted in a double-boiler rather than the microwave.

My photo today is another photo which I haven't taken. There's a page I love and whose photos I sometimes share on Facebook called callejeando por Madrid. This photo of a building which happens to be the seat of Madrid's Town Council is lit up in Christmas colours. It was built at the beginning of the 20th Century and is now called Cibeles Palace for the goddess whose fountain you see in front. This is the fountain where Real Madrid (Football Club) come to celebrate when they win an important title. Funnily enough, this palace didn't cost too much more than my flat, and I certainly don't live in a palace.

Hope everyone in the path of the ice storms in parts of the US stay safe. I know parts of Britain and Germany have had some rough weather. Our weather has been pleasant during the day on account of the sun and freezing at night. When I finally went to bed last night, it was 9º C in Edinburgh and -1º C here in Madrid.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful week.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Christmas Miracle

My brother-in-law posted a photo yesterday of his favourite hen, Salma Nella, and 4 of her babies on Facebook. He said he found them in the barn. Unfortunately, by that time, two of the babies had died. He took the mother hen and remaining 4 little ones into the house and placed them in an old aquarium with a heat lamp. I have no idea what the chicks' chances are of surviving. I do know it's not normal for them to hatch so late in the year. After all, today is the first day of December, hence, the title of my post. Have any of you ever heard of farm animals like chickens breeding in the winter? I hope that if they survive, their paths don't cross with another animal that devours them, and I wonder what names they'll be given.

Yesterday was a busy day for me as is today. I had lunch with the group of friends that tries to get together every month, although it's not always possible. I've mentioned before that I'm one of those people who have lunch early - at 1 p.m. When we get together on Saturday for lunch now, we don't eat until after 3.30, because my friend's institute doesn't close until 3 p.m. 

Today, apart from my usual class preparations, I'll have to iron my comforter cover, which is cotton and looks awful if I don't, and maybe a few other things that could use a touch-up. Later on, I'll be mixing up the dough for icebox rolls, which I'll be taking to some Spanish friends' house on Wednesday evening for another Christmas dinner. Then it's the usual Chinese dinner on Thursday. Thank goodness, next Friday is a holiday, which should give me a head start on making some holiday goodies like buckeyes. 

Well, the Christmas lights have gone up in Madrid. I haven't seen any of them except in photos, and we may not see them lit up for long if those responsible for turning them on go on strike like they've threatened. The street cleaners' strike has finished, hopefully to the satisfaction of the workers. If the lamp lighters, or whatever they're called, go on strike, it will make the city look sad. If they are also responsible for the street lights, then it will be a different kettle of fish. I certainly don't want to be out walking in the dark because a street light has gone out and isn't replaced.

I know most who have had a nice 4-day weekend must be feeling a little down today. Hope you all enjoy your last few hours of holiday and have a wonderful week. Won't be long until Christmas!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Another Year Younger

Although yesterday was officially my birthday, I celebrated it at the restaurant of my choice - a Greek - on Thursday evening. We enjoyed a lovely time together, and, after telling my friend Judy that I wasn't going to share the moussaka with her because they'd downsized it the last time we were there, I had to force myself to finish it since the portion was again bigger. I imagined that Judy would give me some cologne and a necklace, and I wasn't disappointed. I got 3 small bottles of Adidas for Women eau de toilette and a very unusual cotton necklace from her. I know some people don't like cloying perfumes and neither do I, which is why I always spray on just a small amount. My neighbour bathes in it I think. I  hate having to be near her whenever she's wearing whatever it is she wears. At least one of the gifts I was given, I'll have to re-gift. It's something that I won't use, and honestly I'm trying to get rid of things like that, things that are too big and that I don't find useful or it's not something I'll wear or use up quickly.

Despite enjoying a good meal and good friends who gave me some nice things, it was an accidental birthday. I've stated before that I'm the official, I suppose self-appointed, social secretary for my group of friends. I'm usually the one who books the restaurants. First of all, when I booked the table I forgot to include myself, so we were kind of squashed on one side. The restaurant offered us a bigger table, but I liked the table we were given. The next part is a bit of good luck. As I had quite a few bags, and none of them were plastic, I put the gift bottle of wine and its carrier into a bigger bag. Just as I got into my building, the bottom fell out of this bag and out tumbled everything. Luckily, the bottle of wine didn't break. Yesterday, my actual birthday, I woke up with a bad stomach. I started feeling not so great on Friday evening. Touch wood, today I seem to be okay.
And this was my birthday. In case you can't guess who's in the photo, it's me in the third grade. My sister posted this and a couple more on facebook. She's the social secretary for our family. I like this photo, because I was wearing one of my favourite dresses.

I know everyone who celebrates it is looking forward to Thanksgiving. We'll have one more long weekend in December and then Christmas. Like most, I'm looking forward to the holidays. Have a good week and a thankful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Rain, Rain and Nothing Much Else

Have you ever had one of those weeks in which nothing of importance or interest happens? I didn't arrive an hour early any place or cause a scene that I'm aware of. One of the neighbours, who I suppose isn't speaking to some of us or maybe just me, held the door for me yesterday because I had two bags of shopping and an umbrella. I thanked her (for not letting the door slam in my face). The joys of living in a block of flats! I suppose living in a house with other houses close by could also be problematic. I intend to continue greeting her whenever I see her just to bother her and demonstrate that my mother taught me manners. She's always been a bitter person, so her attitude doesn't surprise me.

While I was wondering what photo to post for my boring blog, I read a funny news item about the police being called to an apartment in Sweden late at night to check out a loud disturbance. They encountered an extremely angry couple, who were cursing loudly and throwing around bits of furniture, and their baby, who had been woken up by the noise and who was screaming. Yes, the frustrated pair were trying to put together a piece of furniture they'd bought in IKEA.

I just wonder how long they'd tried to put their piece of furniture together. Years ago I wanted something for all the videos I had and saw in a catalogue the answer. It was like an open bookcase that revolved so you could use both sides and still see all that the videos you had. I tried all afternoon one day to put it together, and, after it fell apart the 100th time, I decided to give up. I'm usually patient and don't give up easily, but this time I did. Finally a friend was able to, with much difficulty, get it put together. It came only with photos, which were obviously not in the correct order, and different types of 'screws' for the planks of wood - wooden ones and metal ones. I have this piece of furniture to this day. It's where I keep a lot of my course books and too many papers. It's covered up for this reason, and also for the gaps that there are in the sides due to different screw types and lengths. I know this is the example IKEA uses for their furniture! They should declare 'how not to assemble your furniture'.

We've had a rainy weekend, especially today when it hasn't stopped yet. Not only is it raining, but it's cold and I have some clothes drying over the radiator. It's funny that we're further south and it's warmer in Edinburgh and Helsinki today (and yesterday). I have no plans to go out today. I do have some paper and a box from Amazon I need to take to a paper bank. However, with the street cleaners' strike, the banks are overflowing. Thankfully in my area, things aren't as bad as some in which cars have been burnt along with the containers.

Here's hoping everyone has a good week. I don't know about you. I, for one, don't need for exciting things to happen as long as bad things don't. Happy new week!


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Clouds and Embarrassments

I guess I'd have to say I'm still not used to the time change. It doesn't matter that we in Europe turned our clocks back the week before others. I confess my kitchen clock has yet to show the new time, but that's not its fault the same as it isn't its fault what happened to me on Wednesday evening. Wednesday is the day that I have 4 classes one after the other. Believe me, it helps that 3 of them are in the same house. What I wasn't expecting was for one of the kids to be ill, so after giving class to their mother, who has incorporated into my list of students, I went home.

Since one of our regulars hasn't been able to join us for our weekly dinners at the Chinese, Chris asked if we couldn't change it to Wednesday night instead. I don't finish until almost 9 pm, but she works in the centre and arrives at about 9.30 pm. I don't have a problem getting to the Chinese on time because it's near my house. I'm usually the first one to arrive anywhere anyway as I believe in being punctual. On Wednesday night I was so punctual that I arrived an hour early! When I went in I thought it was unusual that the family and the chef were still having dinner. I went in and sat down at our usual table. I looked at my phone to see if Chris had sent a WhatsApp (she usually does to say she's about to arrive). The penny dropped when I saw the time: 20.35 (8.35 pm). How lucky I am to live nearby so I didn't have to sit there or walk around for an hour!

Obviously I need to blame someone for this week's embarrassing events. One student I told I'd see her on Friday when I only have class with her on Tuesday. As a teacher, I'm always reminding students to read the instructions carefully. Reading the wrong questions for a text on my part didn't demonstrate I could follow instructions correctly. So I'm going to place the blame on whoever decided we have to change the time (it gets dark too early) and the weather. This weekend has been quite sunny, but this past week was mostly cloudy and foggy.

Madrid is at present suffering a street cleaners strike. I hope and pray that my area doesn't get as bad as some areas where pickets have burnt containers, even catching cars parked near the containers on fire, and scattered rubbish everywhere making walking difficult and doing little for the image it gives to tourists of Madrid. There are minimum services, and those working are protected by a police escort. I haven't seen anyone cleaning the streets like this in my area. However, in other areas sometimes the businesses and schools have taken care of cleaning the streets. Striking is everyone's right and those of us who aren't on strike are the ones who pay for this right.

Nothing much left to say except I'm glad my week is over, hope this new week brings better experiences and is a good one for everyone.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Someone on Facebook Said...

there were only 7 more shopping Saturdays until Christmas, and I also saw a post warning Santa off because its Thanksgiving month (and my birthday, may I add). My photo shows some of the things I bought last Christmas for decoration. Those lovely bags I got to hold the goodies I always make as gifts at Christmas. As a matter of fact, I've made a pact with an artist-writer friend to make him some teacakes in exchange for one of his pictures. 

Unfortunately I won't be able to go to the Christmas fair where I bought the items you see. The venue where it's always held, an Anglican church, is booked for all the Saturdays when the group could have the fair. Some of them also sell at the American Women's Club and at the British Ladies Christmas fair. I've been to the American one a couple of times and it's always crowded - the same with the British Ladies fair. I don't enjoy being in crowds any more, so I'll give these two a miss and hope to attend the one in the church next year. I used to do baked goods for this group, but it got too much for me.

My friend Chris's birthday falls on Halloween. The person whose birthday it is always chooses the restaurant. Chris always chooses Indian, just as I used to choose Mexican until our favourite Mexican restaurant started being rented out for Thanksgiving dinner. My choice has been changed to Greek. This was the first year we'd celebrated Chris's birthday so close to where I live (10 minutes walking). It seems I'm the social secretary for our get togethers because I book the tables and send out the e-mails and WhatApps or if necessary telephone. Anyway, the food was good, although one of our friends complained that it would have been less expensive had we shared dishes. We usually have leftovers which are always taken home. I know when we go to the Greek, I'm not sharing my moussaka, because they've made the portion smaller. One of the big problems is we start eating so late. The one who complained about the expense can't get there until 10 pm, which is a bit late for me, but don't think you're going to have dinner in Spain before 9 pm unless you go to McDonald's or one of the other fast food places.

I hope everyone enjoys their extra hour this weekend if you didn't get one last week. I sure have enjoyed my 3 days off. Have a good week everyone.   

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Getting Ready And Going Backwards

Here's another photo from my summer visit to Ohio. There's a picturesque little town near Cincinnati called Glendale. The first time I visited I took photos of the pub with the British name of Cock and Bull and lots of squirrel statues scattered around the town. I posted these on the innovative but sadly defunct social site Multiply, so some of you may have seen them. Now when I visit, we have dinner in the pub and watch trains. I don't usually take photos. However, I'd never seen a black squirrel before, and this little guy seemed to be digging for China. How many black squirrels have you seen? 

Before I leave this quiet little town, let me tell you a couple of interesting facts about Glendale, Ohio. It started out as a holiday resort for the rich of Cincinnati, especially in the summer. From a commemorative plaque I saw this summer, Glendale was also famous during the Civil War for the 'battle that never happened'. Morgan's troops, who had arrived in Glendale, had expected to run into Union troops because of the railroad. Well, a trainload of Union soldiers did pass through the town. Lastly, the only actress who successfully committed suicide by jumping off the sign when it was still Hollywoodland is buried in the cemetery here. Her father lived in Glendale.

This morning I was somewhat confused when I turned on the TV expecting to watch the 'Victims Of Terrorism' demonstration and speeches. The demonstration was in protest against the European Court's decision to overturn the 'Parot Law' in Spain which states that terrorists and other dangerous criminals, such as rapists and serial killers, are to be kept imprisoned the maximum number of years. In other words, the seriousness of the crime dictates the sentence. The European Court has ruled this is against 'human rights'. One such terrorist was set free just hours after the decision was made. She is responsible for over 20 deaths, one of them being an American businessman who was in the street when the bomb went off. There are over 100 terrorists who will be able to benefit from the Court's decision. The mother of Sandra Palo, a young girl who was raped, run over by a car and whose body was set on fire and burned, was also attending the demonstration, so now her daughter's murderers can be free too, thanks to the Court. What about the rights of the victims? As for my confusion, I'd forgotten the time change. Woe is me! Now I have to get used to another timetable change.

It's probably good that I get an extra hour this weekend, because I've been quite busy. I did some baking yesterday, so I'll have homemade bread for a few days. I'm a messy cook though and had to clean the kitchen floor 3 times! Then in the afternoon, I finished getting all my winter things ironed and into the wardrobe. I often envy people who have wardrobes for winter and summer clothes. I used to, but now things from the past season have to go into bags or suitcases. Touching wood, it's still not too chilly out and I haven't put on the heating yet.

Hope everyone has a good week. You can be envious of my extra hour this weekend and Friday off, and then I can be envious of you next weekend and your time off at Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Or in my case: perejil, salvia, romero y tomillo. This summer while we were looking for my Chinese spider, I saw a spice carousel and got it for my sister as her spices were on a shelf in a kitchen cupboard all piggly wiggly if you know what I mean. This is my spice carousel that I've had since the 80's. Although sometimes I have to search for a particular spice because it's not out front, they're all here. The easiest ones to find are the ones from the Simon and Garfunkel song. For some inexplicable reason, I have to arrange these specific spices in this way. At least I'm not like Anne Tyler's 'The Accidental Tourist' in which 'the accidental tourist's' sister had everything arranged in alphabetical order in her kitchen - the ant killer was next to the allspice. Hope I'm not so neurotic! How about you? Have you got any unusual quirks that you wouldn't mind sharing?

Being less selfish and taking responsibility are two things that many have yet learnt to share. One afternoon this past week, the neighbour across the hall warned me that there was oil on the floor and steps. Why the person who'd spilt the oil didn't clean it I can't say, or why this lady who told me about the oil didn't. Perhaps because she rents and doesn't own her flat, she thinks she doesn't have to. As I was going to class, I quickly wrote a warning about the oil and put it on the bulletin board. When I returned from classes, no one had bothered trying to clean, so I got out my bucket and mop and cleaned the steps and floor of the entrance. It's always a feat to clean without having someone walk through where you've just mopped. When I finally got the hall mopped and dry, I put up a different message on the board saying that I'd only cleaned that part and was unsure if there was oil on the stairs leading to the other flats. According to my frequently annoying neighbour, there was oil from the second floor, so I'm sure they also spilt some on the stairs. How dangerous is that dripping a slippery liquid like oil throughout a building and leaving it? Would the person who left the trail of oil feel guilty if someone had fallen and really hurt themselves? The least this person can do is apologize for being selfish and not taking the time to clean up the mess. We all have things to do and places to go.

Wow! This sort of turned into a rant post, but then that's something some of us need to do from time to time. I know I do. However, my favourite way to end such a post is wish everyone a good week. Have a good week all. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Another Summer Project

Homemade laundry detergent was another thing I'd placed on my summer projects list. This is a joint effort between my sister and me. It seemed to me that just about everybody was making their own, and I wanted to see if it was really that good before I committed myself to getting the ingredients to make it. The recipes call for washing soda and we only have baking soda, so I thought I'd have to buy that in the US. Since our venture, I've read that you can make washing soda by baking baking soda. Maybe a bit more complicated making it, but I'm used to finding substitutes. When I run out of what I brought back, I'm going to use Lagarto soap, which is a very mild soap with lots of uses. It's a soap I'll use for washing my face.

As you can see from my label, I've written two tablespoons per load. I've seen some recipes that suggest one tablespoon per load, so if you want to use only one, I imagine that's sufficient. The important thing is you're saving money and not harming the environment with harsh ingredients. You also feel good about having made something useful. One of my friends' birthday is at the end of this month and I'm going to give her a tub as part of the package I'm making up.

Having said I'll be making more when what I have is finished tells you I really like it. Do you make your own laundry detergent? You can find the ingredients in the detergent aisle of the supermarket. We used Fels Naptha soap, but I've seen other brands mentioned and even Ivory soap. We made a big batch and used 3 soaps. The recipe we used is as follows:

  • 1 cup finely grated Fels Naptha soap
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
 Next I'll be making dishwasher tablets.

Autumn is definitely here. I haven't put the heating on yet, but I'm thinking it's a wonderful afternoon to do some baking. I'll hold off on the washing soda until I need it though. Hope everybody has a good week.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Pickpockets and Spiders

Well, I can finally cross something off my 'gadgets' list on Pinterest as something that I've acquired and find super useful. It's popularly called a Chinese spider (because of the metal basket which looks like a spider web) and can be used for taking food out of hot oil, as it drains off the excess oil effortlessly, or for draining pasta. In case you don't know by now which gadget hanging up there is the Chinese spider, it's the one with the metal basket and the bamboo handle. I initially was going to order mine from Amazon, but I checked prices on the internet and saw that it was 2 dollars cheaper at Bed Bath & Beyond. It always pays to compare prices as we all know.

One day this past week I got a phone call from my neighbour (the one I'm always happy not to see) saying her handbag had been stolen from inside her flat and she had to go to the police station to report it. She owns two flats in the building - one on my floor and she lives in one on the first floor. At the moment the one on my floor is empty although she's just told me there's a possibility that she was going to rent it out soon. Anyway, she's always going up and down from one flat to the other and she leaves the doors open in both places. Although I think she left her bag downstairs with her bag of art supplies, she thinks she left it upstairs. I suppose it was someone from the building who took it, because later that same evening she told me she had found her bag minus her wallet hanging on the door downstairs.

Last week I posted on facebook a story about a wallet that was hindering a door of one of the trains from closing properly. Inside the wallet the mechanic, whose job it was to repair the door, found a check for $2 million written out to someone from California. So far they haven't been claimed, which makes me wonder. Yesterday morning, I was again helping my friends from the language institute, only this time it was to unpack the books we'd put into boxes in July. As soon as we got into the underground station afterwards, we were warned about pickpockets by a guard. That's life in a big city!

My first week back to work was hard. I'm adjusting to the time change and routine more or less and sleeping better. Hope everyone's week is a good one.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

It's Been a While

How difficult it is to think of exactly where to begin after being away for over a month. I have been able to keep up with some of you on facebook, so I know what's happening with you.

 Here are a few photos of my time in the US that I wanted to share. Unfortunately, one of my nephews suffered a bad motorcycle accident on Labor Day and he and his mother were unable to attend our annual family reunion. My sister Jackie and I spent 3 days in the city where he was in hospital. Thankfully he's at home now, but the recovery is ongoing for the family. It was hard for us to see both him and our sister in the hospital. I can only pray that we're all together for our next reunion.

We miss our sister and nephew and those who had to work and couldn't join us.

We went to see a play called 'Fly' which we enjoyed immensely. It was a tribute to the Afro American fighters of World War II. We saw it at the Playhouse in the Park in Cincinnati. I was initially worried that it was an outdoor theatre on account of mosquitoes. It's not, of course. I didn't escape my visit without getting bitten even though I sometimes wore an anti-mosquito bracelet.

This is my sister and brother-in-law at the Bardwell Winery where we had dinner the last Friday I was there. It was the first time I'd had fried green beans.

Sisters or two of my sweet great-nieces. The elder of the two doesn't like posing for photos any more and was unaware that her photo was being taken. They're two polite little girls who always say thank you, but they're kids. The younger one loves Dora and Boots and the elder one wants what she sees on TV.

This last photo didn't turn out too good. This is Diana, named after one of our sisters because of the hair on her head. This is one of my brother-in-law's pet chickens. He's got two others like Diana only they're black. A neighbour's dog was trying to kill one of his roosters early one morning. Luckily their dogs woke them up and they were able to save the poor thing. He lost a lot of feathers though. Do roosters have the same number of lives as cats? This is the second time this particular rooster has been attacked. The other time a hawk was trying to carry him away.

When I returned, I was so looking forward to a few hours sleep (am still suffering from jetlag). It was not to be! There were workmen in front of my building and windows digging up the street. They had to help me and my suitcase across the ditch since a van was blocking the 'bridge' they'd put down so we could get into the building. That's the city for you! And this was some of my holiday. Nothing left to say except hope everyone has a good week.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Discoveries and Inventions

Is anyone else always thinking about things you'd like to see invented like me? A lot of my wishes have to do with technology. One of the big grips about the so-called smartphones is that they come with all these apps that I'm never going to use, and any app that I'd like to add I can't for lack of space. Okay I shouldn't complain too much as I didn't have to buy the phone. I sure do get sick and tired of freeing up space though! How about having to charge the darn thing just about every day? I can only imagine that someone who uses theirs more than I do mine must have to charge the phone more often. I have made a useful discovery though and that is the charger for my Kindle and my phone are compatible, so one less cable I'll have to take on trips. Wouldn't it be fantastic if everything else were compatible?  And can't someone please invent a dust deleter so as not to waste my finger checking for dust?

If I had to choose a household chore that I abhor, it would be dusting, because I dust today and see more the next day. I remember my mother used to complain about the dust from coal trucks that used to come barreling through their small town. Since they've built a road around the town, heavy vehicles are no longer a problem unless it's a tractor or other vehicle from a surrounding farm. The last time we went through the town we didn't pass a single car.

My photo for this week is a show and tell. Terri in her 'Hodgepodge Wednesday' was talking about chevron patterns. Of course, I had no idea what that meant until I looked on the internet and realised I had a chevron rug. It's not large because in Spain we don't go in for wall-to-wall carpeting (I've never seen a carpeted room here), and it's in the kitchen in front of the sinks. I got it from a Dollar Store the last time I was in the US. It goes in the washing machine easily and comes out perfectly and it came at an affordable price . Maybe a bigger rug or a bigger design would be too much, but it goes well with the floor and also the kitchen tiles. The mop is just a mop that when the head starts falling apart, I can replace it. Did you know that the mop was invented by a Spaniard? It's called a 'fregona' (from the word for scrub) as a 'mopa' is a dustmop or, as we tell our students, a 'false friend'. There are lots of words like this which can lead to confusion or most likely a lot of laughter. I'm sure you've seen lots of examples about the differences in language. I recently learnt that 'lumia' (the Nokia phone) was slang in Spanish for prostitutes. I've never heard anyone call them that in all the years I've lived here, so perhaps it's old-fashioned. I'm almost forgetting to let you know wrapping the stems in transparent film didn't stop my bananas from getting mushy in a few days - another trick that doesn't work.

I'll be taking a short break from blogging as I commented last week. I can't take the weather with me everywhere like I'm always wishing we could, but I can take the internet with me to be able to see what you're up to. I'll pop in to facebook too. Nobody blogs there, so it's easy to leave an update.

Some of you know that I've requested you keep my friend Chris and her family in your prayers. Her father passed away yesterday afternoon. I pray that they find comfort in their faith and know that he is no longer suffering.

Have a blessed week.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Going Bananas

Here's another of my experiments - something I saw in a post on facebook. The theory is that if you wrap the stems of bananas with transparent film (what some people call saran wrap), this will slow down the ripening process. I'll let you know how my bananas go. They're already ripe enough to eat, so I probably won't be able to keep them too long without doing something with them. I've already chopped some up to freeze for my breakfast smoothies. As for the smoothies, I haven't added any berries to them when I add green vegetables like spinach. Still the green makes them a yucky colour. Why can't they turn a nice mint green?

I'm really sorry that my weekly post is going to take a turn for the worse. Last night about 10 pm that certain neighbour who always stresses me out with her drama called complaining that another neighbour (one that she can't stand or one of several she has bad thoughts about) had put up a notice asking others not to throw things onto the patios and the street. I knew before the sourpuss even told me which neighbour had put it up, because if there's a notice that goes up in my building I'm the one who composes it and prints it out (in big, big letters as per usual). Why it should bother her that someone should write and post such a notice I can't say unless she is one of the guilty ones. In the past I've been splashed with water from her cleaning her windows when I've been out during the day. Now she's just called to tell me she's gone to the police to ask them what she can do about her next door neighbour who is encroaching on her property and blocking out the light by hanging her clothes so they partially cover the windows. The constant complainer lives on the first floor, but she also owns a flat on the ground floor, which is the one the drying clothes are blocking the light from. The other day I was invited to witness that the guilty party's clothes were hanging down over a few inches of the windows.

If I didn't have to live in the vicinity of this woman, I'd surely see how ridiculous and funny things are. After all, there can be worse problems with neighbours. Not only do I have to do anything that requires a computer for this person but also have to take photographs for her and print them out. She's never satisfied with them either or with anything really. I've never claimed to be a photographer. Last Sunday when I suggested she get her son to take photos for her, she answered that he never came to see her. I had to hold in a laugh or more at that. I don't have to wonder why he doesn't. Anyway, I'm happy to get a rest from all her drama and trouble soon - counting the days.

On to more pleasant thoughts, but thanks for listening. Only wish I could say I feel better after such a rant. Hopefully I'll feel better when she's no longer in my life. 

Katherine, from the blog Creating Through Life, recently celebrated her blog's second anniversary. My first anniversary on Blogger is this coming Thursday. I have no complaints about this site, but I can't help being homesick for Multiply sometimes. I recently saw that Loretta was giving up on ipernity, and truthfully I don't know why I haven't closed my account there. No one will miss me. Luckily Loretta and some of my other multiply friends are here or on facebook or google +. The funny thing about ipernity is you can't post anything that isn't yours. One of my friends was blocked because he posted a Robert Frost poem. Ipernity has a page on both facebook and google +. Yet they don't allow material from facebook and google + to be shared on ipernity. I wonder what they share on theirs! Sorry, don't think I'll become a fan to find out.

Enough said for this week I believe. Next week will probably be my last post for a month or so. Thanks for the continued prayers for my friend Chris and family. Have a good week.

Monday, 5 August 2013

The Bear and The Strawberry Tree

I missed my calling yesterday, i.e. I was too busy to sit down and write a post. Actually I was less busy this weekend than I'd originally planned to be, but yesterday I spent a good part of the day with some friends from Texas who should be well on their way home by now.

It's always good seeing people you don't often see and remembering old times. I worked with Sue many years ago. She was laughing about the time she, another girl and a boy from my university had gone to Granada to see the world-famous Alhambra and had spent the day walking around in the rain. Later on they decided to find a hotel and go have something to eat. When Don, the boy from my university, went to take out his money that he'd put in his shoe, he discovered the notes were sopping wet and falling apart, so they had to go to a bank to exchange them. Another time I remember he and another person got locked in the abstract art museum in Cuenca (the Hanging Houses).

As for my photo, it's from Madrid. It was taken the summer that Spain won the World Cup in football (soccer). It's the symbol of Madrid and can be found on all the official documents for the city. The statue itself isn't an old one, at least not when I think of old in Madrid. It's from the latter half of the 20th C. I finally changed my cover on facebook and put this photo up. I hope it's more interesting than the spinach dip photo I had to post.

I don't know why everyone is saying good-bye to summer already. It's still summer hot for us. As a matter of fact we're in what's usually the hottest part of the summer. The saying goes that Madrid has 9 months of winter and 3 months of hell (9 meses de invierno y 3 meses de infierno), and we haven't had our 3 months of hell yet.

My friend Chris had to change her plans and go home 3 days earlier because her father, who is terninally ill, was rushed to hospital. Please keep the family on your prayer list. Hope everyone has had a good start to the new week and that the days ahead are just as pleasant.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Christmas in July

One summer one of my sisters-in-law decided to host a Christmas- in- July party. She was always having some kind of party. For her Christmas party we all exchanged presents and even had a real Christmas tree, something I wasn't very happy about. In those days I don't think anyone bought potted Christmas trees. Besides unless you went to a plant nursery or whatever they're called, you wouldn't have found a potted tree, so they cut one just for that party. Don't get me wrong. I love my now ex sister-in-law. However, I hate waste and cutting down a tree to enjoy it for a few hours is a terrible waste.

When I think of starting Christmas preparations in July, I'm always reminded of this particular party. I'm not so organized as to claim that I've started getting things ready for Christmas already, but I decided to make another round cushion - this one for my sister who loves green. As a matter of fact, the material I used for it I got from her last summer. I know she isn't a lover of lots of cushions on sofas, but hopefully she'll like this one. It took me a couple of afternoons to put it together as I first had to make the cushion pattern and the cushion - round cushions don't seem to be popular here. Once I got the cushion made, it was time to gather the green material around it and tie it with a rubber band like you would a bag and chop off the excess bit to form a 'flower'. The material kept fraying and I kept trying to repair it. Maybe I shouldn't have cut off so much of the extra material. In the end, I found this red ribbon that I've had for years and decided to use that to go around it. So here you have my homemade Christmas cushion. It's a good thing I don't give up easily.

Patience was called for this weekend that's for sure. As you know I usually go out for Chinese with friends every week. The other night I was in the bathroom when my landline phone rang and then my mobile neither of which I got to in time. I didn't know whose number it was, but decided to go directly to the restaurant so as not to arrive late. It turns out my friend Chris had sent me several whatsapp messages, none of which I'd answered. Later when I got home and was looking at my address book on the mobile, I discovered all my phone numbers had been deleted. How that happened I'll never know (I don't imagine).  I'm paranoid so I do use an AV even on my phone.

Yesterday and today are days that I'd 'take the weather with me where I go'. Thank goodness for a brief respite, because I've seen for later on in the week temperatures of 40ºC + (100º F +). I still remember a summer where we had 45ºC temps and had to even export electricity to Portugal. Next week I'll be on the gazpacho, but today I'm having lentils to celebrate.

Hope everyone is enjoying a fantastic day whatever you're doing and here's to a good week. Today is my youngest sister's birthday (the baby of the family). She weighed 3 pounds 5 ounces at birth, but there was nothing wrong with her lungs. Her photo made the local newspaper and her little mouth was wide open in a scream. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Speckled Smoothie

Hopefully Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will forgive me for using part of the title of one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes short stories 'The Speckled Band' for my post. Ever since it's got hot, I haven't had much of an appetite. In winter, I wake up thinking about what I'm going to have. I still remember one of my university professors telling us how important breakfast was and that we should always have something - even a glass of juice. I have a friend who never eats anything until lunchtime. She says eating early in the morning makes her feel sick.

Cold foods are what really go down well in the summer. I love gazpacho and have it by the glassful like a normal tomato juice. That's the first thing I grabbed yesterday when I came in hot and sweaty from food shopping. Before the end of the day, I'm sure I'll have more gazpacho, but the smoothie is what I have for breakfast. This morning's smoothie has a few raspberries in it, so the colour isn't so nice. Instead of putting spinach in, I used lamb's lettuce (corn salad). Obviously red fruit and dark green leaves create a yucky colour that in no way takes away from the delicious taste, so I drank all of it, except a little that's still in the fridge. Sometimes we give too much importance to appearance. So what if there are green specks in my smoothie too?

Yesterday after coming back from food shopping, I decided to de-frost my fridge, which takes all of 15 minutes and gather all the packets of bits of this and that and make a stir-fry today for lunch or dinner - whichever I get round to making it for. No, I don't have a no-frost fridge and hope the one I do have lasts a few more years. I don't have a thermomix either, but then my kitchen is too small for one and they're too expensive for my pocket. Oh, I know they make wonderful things and quickly too. However, a thermomix is at the bottom on my wish list. 

Friday night there were 23,000 spectators in the bullring for the Red Bull Street Fighters exhibition. It sounded like a cannon of some kind was fired at the start of the show, and then at the end there were fireworks. Naturally I was thinking about Zara and how noises like these really frightened her. Until recent years when there seem to have been fewer, it was difficult to take her out at Christmastime because of all the bangers (firecrackers). I recently read somewhere that comforting your dog when they were frightened made their fears worse. However, I think that's the obvious course of action for a pet owner who sees their beloved animal suffering.

That's about it from my corner of the world. It's times like this that I always wish I could take the weather with me like the song from Crowded House - take the nice weather with me I mean. Earlier today my neighbour was complaining about being bitten by mosquitoes. If only she wouldn't insist on hosing down the patio all the time, which is a waste of water and doesn't really help, maybe the mosquitoes wouldn't come. I think because it's rained so much this year that we have so many. We're not usually bothered with them in Madrid. Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful week.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

My Old Institute

By now I'm hoping that everything has been moved out to its storage place from the old institute until things can be moved into the new place, which needs a bit of a facelift or a good clean and a new coat of paint. I'm thrilled that the new institute will be under the same name Briam (pronounced Bree um), with a + added so it will be Briam +.

Yesterday I posted some old photos from 1951 to 1956 on facebook that I'd found in one of the office cupboards. However, the one I've posted here isn't one of them. The man in the middle is one the founders of Briam, which was founded in 1949. I never knew the founders, of course, but there were all kinds of rumours that the founders were Nazis who had escaped and come to Spain and the name Briam was some kind of code name. Then others insist Briam means British-American. The only thing that I'm sure of is that he was Belgian and there were probably more American teachers than British ones when I came to work there. Also when the institute was founded, French was much more popular than English. Nowadays few students study French, so Briam eventually closed their French department.

Another fact that raises more rumours about Briam and its origin is that there was only one other language institute that competed with Briam and that was Mangold. Many claim the founder of this institute's real name was Goldman, a Jewish name. It all makes for more intrigue. Anyway, when Mangold finally closed their doors in the 90's, they recommended that their students go to Briam. How many companies do you think would do something like that now? Briam's coat of arms that was included on all official documents said in Latin 'Honour is a virtue'. You can see the coat of arms in the photo. I don't know if Mangold had a coat of arms, but as educators they were thinking if their students.

So this is the history of my old workplace as I've been told it. Now guess what I'm doing at home off and on this weekend? Emptying out drawers and sorting papers - some of the same things I did last week and the week before helping my friends. The difference is I haven't come across so much dust, just a lot of papers that need shredding that I hate doing so much. Yesterday I was looking at some of my old posts I'd imported from Multiply and came across one from May two years ago where I was complaining about how hot it already was. I know some of you have expressed how pleased you are with the nice temperatures this summer, and I must say we haven't had it too bad yet, except those days I was helping to clean out the institute when we had a cautionary alert. Typical!

I need to get a few more things done round the house. I think I'll leave the laundry until tomorrow though. Have a good week all!


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Moving On Up

People on facebook are always circulating scrumptious-looking recipes, which in my experience sometimes don't turn out as promised and tips that don't always work either. Before the heat arrived, I tried a chicken recipe that claimed you would never fry chicken again. It turned out too salty for me even though I didn't add any salt, and snopes.com is constantly posting that some of those wonderful tips may not work. However, the one on this Aunty Acid card that someone posted over there  is one of the most useful tips I've come across in ages.

Since Saturday of last week (except Sundays), I've been helping a couple of friends pack up a language institute. I mentioned this in my last week's post. Of course, we're doing the packing up in the afternoon when the sun is naturally the hottest. A few times last week I got on trains that didn't have the air conditioning on, so they were like saunas. I could stand to lose off my butt and belly. Do you think that may happen? I'm certainly not used to doing so much physical work in the heat. We've been getting home about 10.30 at night and we're all exhausted. Luckily I don't have class in the mornings after last week. In future, I'll try not to complain about all the junk I have that I need to get rid of nor the dust around my house. Our hands have come away black from touching books, and we've even found  material that could have already been put to use, but that no one (?) knew existed.

Well, that was my week. I'm not ready to start again tomorrow though someone has to. We're not sure when things have to be wrapped up. Soon I'm sure. Hope everybody has a  good week.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

My Summer To Do List

I'm not as talented as some people, but I do like to be creative. Some of you may have seen this photo or a similar one on my page on multiply. One of my friends had bought two antique chairs which were in very good condition at an auction. Shortly before I'd seen a tutorial on how to make decorative round cushions, and, when I saw these chairs, I thought they needed some 'dressing up'. To make the decorative cushion is very easy if you have a round cushion, which I didn't and didn't find any in the shops around, so I made my own. Then you take a largish piece of material (my pieces were square) and gather it round the cushion like a bag that you're going to close, tie it with a rubber band and cut off the excess material so that it looks like a pretty flower (more or less).  The rickrack (think it's called) was her idea, which I like a lot. I'm going to try to make a couple for one of my sisters from some material she gave me last summer. She loves green and hers will be green. I'm going to try and add some lace or something. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd appreciate them. These cushions are really pretty if you use shiny material.

Yesterday I arrived home exhausted. Some of you may know that I worked in a language school, one that was well-known, until it closed in 2004. Some of the workers wanted to continue. With the money, we got from the sale of the only building we had left, they used the money they got to continue with a slightly different name and in a rented building. Now the person who was the Head of Studies and one other shareholder have decided they want to close. My friend Chris definitely wants to continue and has found people who are interested in re-starting the business with her. She's one of those people who have lots of useful contacts. Anyway, I was helping to pack up material, take down propaganda, etc. What I will never understand is why if these two people want to leave, why don't they just do that. I know they're hoping to get some money out of it. However, other people who went in as shareholders and who no longer work there didn't get any money for leaving. People are so selfish, only thinking of their own personal gains! I'll have a busy week but will help as much as possible. Please if you pray, add my friends to your list. They're also ex-colleagues which means something to me. Chris is a very positive person and she works hard.

Have a good week everyone. Happy 4th of July whenever you celebrate it if you do.


Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bursting With Summer

Since yesterday I got most of the 'heavy' stuff I do at the weekends like the shopping, cleaning the floors, the laundry, etc. done, I thought I could sleep in today. At the moment everything is silent at lunchtime, but I woke up to the sound of someone gutting out a flat upstairs, on the third floor I imagine. Bang! Bang! Bang! Just one of the numerous disadvantages of living in an apartment block.

I also decided yesterday would be one of the last days I could comfortably do some baking. I think summer has come after another week of abnormally chilly weather. At least it hasn't rained on my clean windows yet. We'll wait for a possible summer storm to do that. Anyway, today I'm going to tackle a chore that I abhor: paper shredding. I'm always putting that off. Better shred while the paper bin is empty!

Not much is going on with me unless I complain about something, which I prefer not to do. We finally met up at the Chinese with one of our friends who hasn't been able to join us for quite a while as she's been involved in giving Cambridge exams. This week she's taken off to go to the beach. She'll come back brown, and I'll be the only paleface!

Before I was reading another blog with photos from a farmers' market showing some delicious-looking tomatoes. On Tuesday I happened to meet one of my former students, who is now teaching at the university level, outside an organic shop. He said it was cheaper than the one I mentioned. I went in to buy some tomatoes, but alas the delivery truck hadn't arrived. Hopefully the next time I go, they'll have some.

As you can see these are the Pringles I like. What is your favourite flavour if you like Pringles? Hope everyone has a week that is bursting with good things. I can't believe it's the last week of June. 


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fans, Salad Dressing and Moths

We've got a plague of moths that have stopped to rest in Spain before continuing their journey to cooler countries in the North. One of my friends said last week that they'd been eating holes in her clothes that she'd hung out to dry, so when one flew in the other night, I chased it around until I finally killed it against my lamp shade. I was so afraid that it would leave a nasty mark. Fortunately, it didn't. I'm so happy the lamp shade has lived up to what the salesman said about being stain-resistant. TV journalists have, however, said the moths we're seeing aren't the kind that eat your clothes. I'll let you know if they are, because one woke me up flitting around. I haven't seen it yet today.

I recently tried a home remedy I saw posted on facebook for repairing wood and decided to try it. I call it salad dressing because you measure out 3/4 cup canola oil (I used sunflower seed oil) and 1/4 cup white or apple vinegar, mix and rub onto your damaged wood. I've had this chest of drawers for at least 30 years and it came to me secondhand. This is the chest of drawers, all shiny, with one of my fans perched on top.  It's one of the few pieces of furniture that I had in my old flat that belonged to me since it was a mostly-furnished flat. If you try this 'recipe' let me know how it comes out for you. For me the surface is a bit sticky. I tried another remedy which boasted the cleanest windows ever also using vinegar as one of the ingredients. I got only the streakiest windows ever. 

At the moment my windows are streak free, but next week the temperature is supposed to go down and there's a possibility of rain. If I were to make a guess, I'd say the possibility that my windows get spotted are very high. I was wearing winter PJ's until Wednesday. Really! Today it's supposed to be about 35º C (95ºF). I won't go out this afternoon unless it's absolutely necessary. 

Happy Father's Day in the US. Hope everyone has a wonderful week whatever the weather.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Say Cheese?

If you're on facebook, please don't give away the answer to the question I posted about this photo. The question was: what do you think this really is? Naturally I'm hoping at least someone will say it's cheese, and it very well could be as I've placed it on a cheese board. Too bad I didn't include the cheese knife in the photo. It's something our grandmothers, their ancestors, and even some of our mothers (mine did) used to make. This chunk that I have is between 15-20 years old I also wrote on facebook. It's lye soap, which in my opinion is as good, if not better, than Oxyclean or Vanish or whatever you use to help clean your clothes. I like to do my washing by hand with it. We have a similar mass-produced soap in Spain that goes by the brand name Lagarto (lizard) soap. It's also good and, like lye soap, is non-irritating. 

Anyway, I have an ulterior motive in posting this photo. I'd like to invite you to participate in a Father's Day giveaway hosted by my friend Kathy (from Multiply too) and a friend of hers. Kathy makes lovely soaps, body butters, you name it from all-natural ingredients. When you see what they're giving away, you'll want to participate, so here's the link:

Would you believe I'm still wearing my winter PJ's! I'm thinking of going out a bit later when all the bullfighting fans and tourists are settled into the bullring. I think this is the last week in which there are fights every day. I won't stay out too long, because the only thing I got done yesterday was the housecleaning (I had to), the shopping and a bit of cooking. The telephone company was here over two hours yesterday installing fiber optics internet for me. Okay so they cleaned up fairly well after themselves, but I still had to clean up the bits, like the dust from drilling, various lost screws, wire tiers. I even found a piece of fiber optic,plus I had to mop because it just had to rain. and, since they were in and out, the floors were dirty. With my luck, it'll rain while I'm out. I really love the navigation speed though there are a couple of things I'm not happy with. One of them that I think is essential - not all my ports are registering 'stealth' so if I can't figure out how to fix that I'll have to call a tech.

That's about all I've got to say for this week. Hope everyone's week is good, and don't forget to join the Father's Day giveaway.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunday Lunch With Telemarketers

After a not so good last weekend, I was hoping for a bit of peace during this one. Canal + Television telemarketers have called me numerous times already during the week and today at about 2.30 p.m., which is lunchtime for many families. I usually eat a bit earlier than that unless I go to a restaurant, so I wasn't eating lunch then. How many times do I have to tell them I'm not interested, and, if I were, there's a shop near my house where I can get the kit to install Canal +. I can only imagine how unpleasant and frustrating their job must be, so I try and politely dissuade them from calling again. However, it doesn't always work or work for long. These calls seem to come in spates. Maybe this week they won't call? Oh no, they've just called! I'm not answering!

Yesterday we had our monthly lunch and hen party. There were only 5 of us as one of our friends is still in the States and another two couldn't make it. We were happy to welcome back a new member who we hadn't seen in over 9 months. She broke her left heel falling off a ladder and has suffered the consequences of the accident ever since. In fact, she's still going through treatment. She says it only hurts now that she's started to walk on it. Not being mobile is one of the worst things I can think of.

My photo today is what I did with some CD jewel cases. I printed a full-size photo of two of my great- nieces and cut each one into two and put them in the case. I'm a real magician! I decided to put my CD's in order, especially the ones I have for the computer, those with photos, recipes, etc. and a few music ones. I got a set of 4 CD albums from Amazon, which look like a small version of the big office files. This way I have them separated and can find the CD I want more easily. As for this idea for photo frames, I found it on the internet. Where else? If anyone has any more cool ideas as to what I can do with the empty cases (I have quite a few), please let me know.

I'm going to do a few chores now and hope everyone has a good week with no horrible storms or other difficulties.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Nail Varnish Remover and Locksmiths

This week hasn't been a good week for me. I always try to be upbeat and not complain too much in my posts, but this is one time I'm going to have to break that rule. I'll try not to bore you with too many details. At least I'll try my best.

The saying goes that bad luck comes in 3's right? This being 'true', I hope I've had my share for a while. It started probably on Tuesday when we had a meeting with the person who is to be the new administrator of our building, though I'm going to say it started for me on Wednesday. I woke up with a painful lip - a horrible cold sore that took me by surprise. As do most people, I get them whenever my defences are low or am under stress, both of which are true in my case. Usually putting Carmex on the sore soothes it quite a bit. However, this particular time I didn't feel that it was doing enough, so I decided to look for some home remedies on the internet. One such remedy was to apply nail varnish remover to your cold sore for a few seconds. A few seconds is about all anyone can stand because the nail varnish remover burns like the devil! Incredible as it sounds, it did numb my lip and I felt fine the rest of the evening - this was Thursday. Since then I've applied more varnish remover, and my cold sore is almost gone. By the way, nail varnish remover is also called nail polish remover. I'm accustomed to using British vocabulary and spelling.

Now in my building there are always problems, especially when it comes to points of view. I'm really fed up with the role that I'm asked to take on just because I'm computer literate, not that I'm the only one who can use a computer or has one, but because this party doesn't get on with that party etc. I get stuck in the middle. I think such behaviour is quite normal in blocks of flats and unfortunately there can be worse behaviour and much worse problems. The president of the building told me yesterday that I was inventing things and sending documents without her knowledge, so I walked out on her, came downstairs, printed off an e-mail with a copy of a contract she'd asked me to send to the lawyers in which I'd written I was sending the contract at her request, handed it to her and left. I returned to my flat only to find I couldn't open the door with my key.

This is bad luck number 3. I had to go back upstairs and ask to use her phone to call a locksmith. She suggested we call someone who used to live here and who might be able to open the door. This person said he lived very far and suggested I call my insurance company. I'm not sure that this is covered in my policy. Anyway, I didn't have my policy number or phone number. To make a long story short, I was finally able to contact an emergency locksmith and was only out of my flat a couple of hours and out of 300 euros for the emergency visit, them opening the door and a new lock put on. One of the neighbours wanted me to break a window on the street side to get in. Then I would have had to pay double!

Anyway, I've learned some valuable lessons here, one of them is to take my phone with me everywhere I go even if it's just to take out the rubbish. I also know anyone reading this will tell me not to let this person upset me. I was upset yesterday. Today I know I've tried to be  helpful and useful, and I know I'm a good honest person who doesn't have to invent stories when the mistakes and shortcomings aren't even mine. If this person can't except that, I won't let this person lower my self-esteem. If this person also apologizes, and it would be a first, I'll except it. Either way, I'll continue my path in life and follow it the best I can.

Thanks for listening and hope everyone has a good week. Somebody on facebook posted Bob Marley's 'Three Little Birds' (don't worry about a thing) and made me feel better just listening to the song. May you rest in peace, Bob Marley.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Squatters Villa No More

 I've mentioned before that around the corner from where I live there's a little house that has been occupied by squatters for quite some time. Well, finally they've gone. I don't know when or how they were able to get them out. I certainly didn't hear any kind of scandal. As a matter of fact, I only realized they were gone when that metal building with the air conditioner, the blue metal portable toilet and the barriers appeared one day.

I decided to go out early this morning and take a photo, so that you can see how rundown this once lovely little villa was. You can see where a fire started a year or so ago on the second floor, not that that kept the squatters out for any longer than it took the firemen to put out the fire and the police to leave. It only meant they couldn't use that floor until things dried out. I hadn't noticed before that they'd changed the name from Villa Sara. Why must they scroll graffiti everywhere? I usually just walk past without looking. Anyway, I hope this construction company restores Villa Sara to some of its former glory. Believe me, the wreck you see isn't how this house used to look. There was a verandah on the second floor. It was a pretty little house. My neighbourhood is the only part of Madrid where you can find these little row houses from the 19th C.

On Friday I was reminded of the Betty Boop cartoon in which she goes to the country to get away from all the noise of the city, only to return to the noise of the city, since, for her, it's more bearable than the noise and bugs from the country. About 1 p.m., the time I'm having lunch, workmen started digging up the street with a jackhammer right outside my windows. So I had the noise from the construction of the supermarket across the street, the house around the corner and vibrating floors and noise from the jackhammer. I suppose they've finished with their digging, but the metal boards that were put down so the cars could go over the big ditch they left rattle every time a car goes by, which is every few seconds. People will be out in the street until late at night again as the bullfights continue. Noise! Noise!

Our lovely spring weather is hiding again. I even put on a hat when I went out earlier, and I'll be putting on the heating before I take a shower. Wednesday it rained really hard in Madrid and has rained every day since. So much rain in May is quite atypical as is the snow in the mountains. No worries. I know it'll soon be too hot for comfort.

That's about it for me. Hope everyone has a good week.